Three Bangladeshi men are on trial at the Criminal Court in the first criminal prosecution for human trafficking in the Maldives since the enactment of Anti-Human Trafficking Act in December.
The three Bangladeshi nationals identified by the court as Baadshah, Abdul Malak and M D Saim Mohla are accused of trafficking a Bangladeshi woman who arrived in the Maldives in December to work as a house maid.
The three defendants could face 10 years in jail if they are convicted.
M D Saim Mohla is also facing charges of possession of pornographic material, which were found on his phone when he was arrested.
In June, the Maldives was removed from the US State Department’s tier two watch list for human trafficking following the passage of the legislation last year.
In a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council and made public yesterday, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) recommended “concerted efforts” to enforce the law.
“There are countless reports of exploitation of migrant workers through fraudulent recruitment practices by their agents, withholding of wages and confiscation of passports,” the report stated.
“Shelters to accommodate trafficking victims and support services are not operational. Lack of resources and capacity appear to be a challenge faced by authorities in establishment of institutional mechanisms and to implement the Anti‐Human Trafficking Act. Thus efforts to facilitate redress to victims remain disproportionate to a deteriorating situation.”
In a section on migrant workers, the HRCM noted that expatriate workers were often subjected to “inhumane conditions like being accommodated in overcrowded places which lack proper ventilation, adequate sanitary facilities and limited accessibility to water.”
“Maltreatment and negative attitudes towards migrant workers are a concern. Accessing services from [Labour Relations Authority] is a challenge for migrant workers based at atolls due to transportation difficulties as many remain reluctant to seek assistance for fear of deportation due to undocumented status.”
The HRCM also recommended ratification of the International Convention on Migrant Workers.