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Maldives legal system “inaccessible” to migrant workers: Transparency Maldives

Maldives legal system “inaccessible” to migrant workers: Transparency Maldives thumbnail

Migrant workers suffering poor treatment from their employers are giving up on taking their cases to court due to the “inaccessibility” of the Maldives legal system, an official from Transparency Maldives’ Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) has claimed.

ALAC Communications and Advocacy Manager Aiman Rasheed told Minivan News today that a large number of human rights abuse cases in the Maldives are “potentially” going unreported due to foreign workers not taking their disputes to court.

Rasheed claimed that both defects within government bodies and corruption were to blame for the human rights abuses affecting migrant workers.

“We are finding that a lot of the issues raised at our ALAC mobile camps involve employees not receiving their wages, having their passports confiscated by employers or are living in sub-standard living conditions,” Rasheed said.

Because of the perceived inaccessibility to the legal system in the country, Rasheed claimed that a lot of injustices involving migrant workers were not being taken to court.

“Getting involved in a legal case is a very costly process. It is very hard for a normal person to afford the services and the process can take a very long time.

“The problem is that we [ALAC] appear to be the only agency providing free legal advice to migrant workers, despite authorities recognising there is a need for free advice,” Rasheed claimed.

Since being launched back in 2012, ALAC has been providing free legal advice and training to victims and witnesses of corruption through mobile camps in Vaavu Atoll and Addu City.

So far, ALAC has assisted with 64 ongoing legal cases related to migrant rights abuses in just six months, whilst further providing advice and training to over 3,000 individuals, Rasheed claimed.

“While we cannot provide financial support to these individuals, we can offer guidance through our lawyers making the entire legal process a lot easier to navigate,” he said.

“We are wanting to further strengthen our partnership with state departments, because this is a national problem.”

While state departments have begun to introduce initiatives targeted at raising awareness of human rights abuse, in particular the ongoing issue of human trafficking, Rasheed claims that there has been no “serious action” taken to address the problem.

“There is a good reason as to why we are on the US State Department’s Tier Two watch list for human trafficking for [three] years in a row,” he added.

Blue Ribbon Campaign Against Human Trafficking

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yesterday (January 9) inaugurated an initiative targeted at raising awareness of the human trafficking issue in the Maldives.

The strategy, entitled ‘Blue Ribbon Campaign Against Human Trafficking’ is expected to include activities to try and raise awareness among students and the business community.

The tourism industry, which employs the largest number of foreign staff in the country, was identified as another key focus of the initiative.

The Foreign Ministry announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with multiple local media outlets in the country as part of the campaign’s aim to raising awareness of human trafficking and other related issues.

India’s concerns

Last month, Indian authorities raised concerns about the treatment of migrant workers in Maldives, stating that the tightened restrictions over providing medical visas to Maldivians was a “signal” for the Maldivian government to address the their concerns.

The commission spokesperson added that the introduction of the tighter regulations was imposed as a clear “signal” from Indian authorities that the concerns it had over practices in the Maldives such as the confiscation of passports of migrant workers, needed to be brought to an end.

On November 26, 2o12, a public notice had been issued by the Maldives Immigration Department requesting no employer in the country should be holding passports of expatriate workers.

Back in October, a senior Indian diplomatic official in the Maldives had expressed concern over the ongoing practice of confiscating passports of migrant workers arriving to the country from across South Asia – likening the practice to slavery.

The high commission also claimed this year that skilled expatriate workers from India, employed in the Maldives education sector, had continued to be “penalised” due to both government and private sector employers failing to fulfil their responsibilities.

Individuals wishing for free legal advice from Transparency Maldives’ Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre can contact the organisation for free on (800) 3003567

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7 Comments on "Maldives legal system “inaccessible” to migrant workers: Transparency Maldives"

  1. Abdulla Jaisham on Fri, 11th Jan 2013 1:57 PM 

    Good work Transparency.

    I hope the work of the motivated people will at least inspire the lazy and do-nothing people at the Human Rights Commission.

    I am so disappointed with Tholal, Jeehan and Azra. I never expected much from Ahmed Kareen or Ali Shameem. They were both useless from the start.

  2. mody on Fri, 11th Jan 2013 2:24 PM 

    This is lam excuse and it is accessible to all. But for sure now the system, you may have to find lawyers to defend the case whether its foreigner or a local.

    But I guess some low income labors may not want to hire lawyer and it is different issue.

    No country provides lawyers free and people are required to respect the culture and its governing laws in each country.

    IF “rasheed” provides these free legal service, then why you have not filed any case with the judiciary ? I am sure if you provide these services and if there are thousands of people who had been victimized, then would have seek your services and you would have done what it is necessary to file the case and defend them in the court.

    Please stop these kind of lam lies just to become famous and get popular .

  3. twilight on Fri, 11th Jan 2013 6:53 PM 

    Anyone who thinks another person can be killed for religious hatred and for any other reason for that matter cannot be a believing Muslim – Saving a human life is like saving the whole mankind, killing a life is like killing the whole mankind, warns the Quran. Killing is allowed only in battle of declared wars and as an enforcement of judicial sentence to protect the larger interest of the society.

    There is no Islamic extremism that or any extremism that will permit crimes against humanity.

  4. Patriot on Sat, 12th Jan 2013 2:56 PM 


    It is not surprising that this is “lame excuse”, especially with your apparent link to this regime!

    But, to my belief, a fact will always remain a fact!

    Many of these immigrants, especially the “labour class” people who come to the Maldives, and with high hopes are sait to have come after paying agents (at both ends) with what ever they collect pawning what ever they have, including family land and etc!

    To think about these people hiring lawyers to represent them in court or elsewhere is hilarious thinking!

    I am sure there is pure inaccessibility as reported!

  5. mody on Sat, 12th Jan 2013 4:02 PM 

    Patriot. We all know that you are one of the guy who had got huge benefit through Nasheed regime and people like you will defend what ever Nasheed says.

    You tell me any country where foreigner can live freely and do what ever they want ?

  6. cabs on Sat, 12th Jan 2013 8:05 PM 

    @mody ,pardon me but all your posts have a theme of some sort of personal vendetta against the former president,did he or his party commit any crime against you or your family to launch into such a personal attack constantly(cool it mody remember a word called libel)

  7. Virendra on Sun, 13th Jan 2013 8:54 AM 

    @mody When you say “No country provides lawyers free and people are required to respect the culture and its governing laws in each country.” – are you sure about what you are writing?
    Many countries give free counsel and lawyers if you can’t afford them. Almost all Western countries and welfare states give this service. Even India provides you this facility. Remember case of Ajmal Kasab who attacked hotels/train station in Mumbai – even he was given free lawyer. Remember this next time you break a law in foreign country – just because you are not their citizen, they won’t start treating you like a non-human.

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