Maldives bans migrant worker protests, threatens to cancel visas

The Department of Immigration and Emigration today warned migrant workers against participating in protests and threatened to cancel work visas for protesting expatriates.

The warning came after local media today announced migrant workers had called for a mass protest on Friday against entrenched discrimination and a recent spike in violence which saw two Bangladeshi nationals murdered and three stabbed in Malé.

A 25-year old Bangladeshi, Shaheen Mia, was stabbed to death in a Malé café in the early hours of the morning on Sunday (March 22), while a Bangladeshi national identified as Bilal was found dead in Alif Alif Atoll Thoddoo Island on Monday night.

Meanwhile, three expatriate workers were stabbed on Tuesday between 7:20pm and 7:40pm in three different locations in Malé.

But the Controller of Immigration and Emigration Mohamed Anwar in a statement today said expatriates protesting for their rights was against the terms of their work permits, and threatened to cancel visas without a second warning.

If action was taken against an expatriate worker for protesting, Anwar said the Immigration Department would also suspend services to their employers.

He called on employers to remind migrant workers to respect Maldivian laws and stay away from protests.

“The immigration department will not hesitate in penalising those who participate in protests,” he added.

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives’ (HRCM) Vice President Ahmed Tholal said the ban on migrant worker protests was unconstitutional.

“The constitution guarantees every person on Maldivian soil the right to protest. A clause in a migrant worker’s contract cannot override the constitution,” he told Minivan News.

Expressing grave concern, Tholal said the recent fatal attacks amount to hate crimes as the violence appears to be targeted against migrant workers.

He noted discrimination and inhumane treatment of migrant workers were entrenched issues in the Maldives, and said this week’s violence further marginalised an already vulnerable group.

Tholal called on the Maldives to immediately initiate discussions with diplomatic missions and take urgent action to ensure the safety of migrant workers.

According to the 2014 national census, there are 58,683 migrant workers in the Maldives. However, the department of national planning said the figure was much lower than the official figure recorded by the Immigration Department.

The US State Department in its 2014 Trafficking in Persons report described the Maldives as a “destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.”

Migrant workers – primarily Bangladeshi and Indian men in the construction and service sectors – experienced forced labor, including fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding and nonpayment of wages, and debt bondage, the report said.

The State Department welcomed the Maldives passing its first anti-trafficking law in 2013, but decried “serious problems in anti-trafficking law enforcement and victim protection.”

“The government did not adequately train police and other officials on trafficking, nor did it provide authorities with procedures to identify victims among vulnerable populations and refer those victims to protective services. Consequently, the government penalised some victims for offences committed as a result of being trafficked and also deported thousands of migrants without adequately screening for indications of forced labor,” the report said.

Following the enactment of the Anti-Human Trafficking Act in 2013, the Maldives avoided relegation to Tier 3 and possible international sanctions.

Human rights group Transparency Maldives (TM) has also described the Immigration Department’s protest ban as unconstitutional and called on the government to listen to worker’s concerns.

TM also urged law enforcement agencies to expedite investigations into migrant worker murders and called on the government to sign the International Covenant on Migrant Workers immediately.


17 thoughts on “Maldives bans migrant worker protests, threatens to cancel visas”

  1. The Bangladeshi's could take over the country if they would unite. Of course these people should have the right to protest if they're treated badly.

    Too bad there's such a disgusting government of this beautiful country.

  2. Maybe I should sell them some self-defense systems. Give those savages serving the regime and making life miserable for all of us a real fright.

  3. Instead of banning protests, why doesn't the local mafiosi, aka employers, provide adequate protection to their workers?
    The governments of India, Srilanka and Bangladesh should look into labour practices in the Maldives, particularly the odious practice of retaining passports of expat workers.
    A clause stipulating 'blood money' to be paid as compensation to dependents in the event of injury or death should be inserted in all new contracts.
    This is 2015 not 630AD and the exploitation and abuse of poor workers must stop.
    The Maldivian Police seem incapable of providing any protection to expats from drug addicted criminals. Things will only improve when the police stop interfering in politics and concentrate on policing.
    Rest in peace Shaheen and Bilal and may God comfort your parents.
    Only comments from expat workers welcome. The rest should scroll on to the next item.

  4. Actually, given a few more years, these laborers can in fact take over the country if they wanted to.

    It'd be interesting to see how the Maldivian police service treats protesting expatriates. I don't think threats about Visa cancellation is going to stop them if they unite together. After all, if there's a mass cancellation of expatriate Visas, the whole country will grind to a halt!

  5. I'm afraid you're wrong on this one, MissIndia.

    See, these killings are not done by drug addicts. They're done by trained murderers, serving as the secret police in Maldives.

    What is their goal? To justify the creation of a curfew from 9PM to 6AM. Why? To silence the protestors.

    The lives of 'expats' are nothing to them. Just replaceable parts, thanks to their criminal connections enabling 'human trafficking' in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

  6. Expatriates should be allowed to protest when they feel insecure. Stopping people from protesting is a gross violation of human rights.

  7. "He called on employers to remind migrant workers to respect Maldivian laws and stay away from protests."

    Maybe someone needs to remind employers and Maldivian government officials about respecting laws as well...

    "Migrant workers – primarily Bangladeshi and Indian men in the construction and service sectors – experienced forced labor, including fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding and nonpayment of wages, and debt bondage, the report said."

    It's obvious that people in Bangladesh government are involved with the human trafficking situation in Maldives. They get paid by Maldivian employers, recruiters, immigration/gov staff to look the other way while their own citizens and Muslim brothers are exploited and raped (figuratively and I'm sure literally on occasion).

    Then we'll have someone like hero saying it's all the fault of Bangladeshi recruiters. But the recruiters are working for Maldivian employers and corrupt Maldivian government agencies. If Bangladesh cared about its citizens, the government would stop allowing them to work in Maldives and Middle East countries.

    Let the Maldivians do their own work. The stoner thugs can serve themselves coffee. No need to bring foreigners to Maldives for jobs that can be done by lazy, self entitled locals who are unemployed anyway.

  8. well if i were a bangladeshi without proper work visa, i will joined the protest & the immigration will cancel my visa that's already cancel or already expired & will be deported for free ticket. this is opportunity to go home for free if any bangladeshi is working illegally here. just an opinion though.

  9. When Maldives calls for Human rights abroad, this is the real superficial two face of it.

    The seat at UN human rights council is a shame yeah.

  10. What constitution is the Maldivian law following? All workers either maldivian or non-maldivian has the right to protest. This is clearly violating the freedom of speech

  11. they have the right to do so, and i will join them on the march.

    and as always "migrant" workers is used for non-white people. because "expatriates" can only be used when only referring to a white person.

    becoming a bit racist now are we?

  12. Maldivians should learn to do their own dirty work. Even you low IQ people should be able to make coffee, cook meals, look after children, do construction work, push hospital trolleys, provide security services, repair roads, do laundry, change bed linen, sweep holiday chalets and clean toilets. There are enough unemployed junkies in Male and elsewhere who will be only too pleased to have a job.
    Unfortunately you will still need to employ expat doctors, surgeons, teachers and IT consultants.
    Like I said, low IQ.

  13. what right do they have? we are totally against the foreign workers protest...
    Let them carry their complaints to the concerned embassies

  14. @MissIndiaAgarwaltheThug, Why can't YOU and other foreign workers stay in your own homes without coming to Maldives??? The problem is you will still come because it is still far better than your conditions in your own countries. How many times have I told you personally, get out of my beloved country, you pest? You will still come. We will stop you and make it illegal if you move out of your work premises....Understand!

  15. There is a little problem with the new design. Although like and dislike feasutures have been added, its difficult to figure out whether to click like or dislike button above or below the comment. Except for the very first comment, its difficult to figure out for the rest of the comments. one of the reason for this confusion is there are two lines for each comment. There is a line after "reply" also.

  16. @ami

    People like these are why I sometimes wish the 'bangladeshi' workers would suddenly stage a violent, armed rebellion and declare independence, then threaten to deliver drone strikes to Mal'e if the government decides to 'crack down'.

    The world would be a better place without those haughty, high-and-mighty, selfish cowards who can't even mix their own coffee.

  17. They are not demanding money or voting right or special privilege. They are just demanding security from thugs. Don't understand how this became against law in any human world.


Comments are closed.