Exploitation of Bangladeshi workers worth hundreds of millions, says former High Commissioner

Exploitation of foreign workers rivals fishing as the second most profitable sector of the Maldivian economy after tourism, according to conservative estimates of the number of Bangladeshi workers showing up at their commission in Male’ after being abandoned at the airport by unscrupulous employment agents.

Former Bangladeshi High Commissioner to the Maldives, Professor Selina Mohsin, who finished her assignment in July, told Minivan News that every day 40 Bangladeshi nationals were turning up at reception, “having come to the Maldives and found they have nothing to do. So naturally they come here to the High Commission.”

Most of the stranded workers were recruited in rural areas of Bangladesh by local brokers, who would work alongside a Maldivian counterpart.

“The Bangladeshi counterpart charges the worker a minimum of US$2000, but it goes up to $US4000. This money is collected by the counterpart and divided: typically three quarters to Maldivian broker and one quarter to the Bangladeshi counterpart,” Professor Mohsin explained, prior to her departure.

“Many workers sell their land, their property, even their homesteads – putting their wives in a relative’s house – and come here for employment they have been told will fetch them between $US300-400 a month. But when they arrive, they find they have no employment.”

Stranded in a foreign country and unable to speak English or Dhivehi, the workers either melt into the Bangladeshi community and become illegal workers, working for low wages in substandard conditions, or present themselves at the High Commission and beg for help.

In some cases workers are collected from the airport by the brokers and have their passports confiscated before being dumped on the streets of Male’, Professor Mohsin explains. Typically the worker arrives with a local mobile phone number – inevitably disconnected – and does not know the name of the broker.

“They eventually end up at my office,” she says, pointing to the Commission’s reception area. “Often they are in a state of shock at arriving to discover they have no employment. I try to put them in a guest house for 7-10 days and see if they can be repatriated, but many can’t and because they owe sums of money they take any job they can – sometimes US$70-80 a month.”

Taking into account the Bangladeshi broker’s cut, and based purely on the numbers of stranded expatriates presenting themselves at the high commission, indicates an employment trafficking scam worth upwards of $43.8 million year.

Even at conservative figures based on the numbers of Bangladeshi nationals presenting at the commission, this rivals the country’s US$46 million fishing industry (2007, Department of National Planning) as the country’s second largest export earner after tourism.

That could likely be just the tip of the iceberg – Professor Mohsin believes the true figure is far higher, pinpointing one operation as bringing in upwards of $100 million.

Work permit discrepancies

Under Maldivian law foreign workers arriving in the Maldives must have a work permit issued by the Immigration Department. This is obtained through an employer or agent, who must first request a foreign worker quota from the Ministry of Trade and Human Resources.

These are obtained “very easily”, Professor Muhsin contends.

“The Maldivian [side] gets into connection with the Bangladeshi brokers, gets a business permit from the Ministry of Human Resources, says they want to recruit and gets a quota for more workers than they require – if they require any at all – and then ask a Bangladeshi counterpart to bring in the workers.”

In an effort to control the flow of workers into the country, some High Commissions – such as Bangladesh – also require that work permits for their nationals be attested by the local commission before they are considered valid.

First Secretary at the Indian High Commission, Naryan Swamy, told Minivan News that the Indian High Commission ceased attesting work permits 3-4 years ago, although the policy remained in place in certain Gulf countries to reduce the exploitation of female domestic servants.

“Our major problem is not forged documents, but people who are given a rosy picture in India about working in the Maldives and want to go abroad. They might be earning US$200 in India, but are told they can earn US$400. When they arrive they get US$120-140,” Swamy says, adding that the burgeoning domestic economy in India has markedly reduced the number of workers falling into such a trap.

“On average we receive 2-3 people a day with this problem. Most of the time we can talk to the employers – usually workers are unsatisfied with the conditions.”

Where the Indian High Commission can identify the employment brokers, “we don’t give up easily,” he hinted. “If we have a case we don’t just write letters – we follow up. The system sometimes takes a long time, but we don’t give up.”

Professor Mohsin acknowlegdes that India “has a far better system than ours, and we allow far more innocent people to come through. But even in India’s case, professionals like doctors on many of the islands are treated badly and looked down on.”

However with the system of attestation in place, the importing of Bangladeshi workers now depends on forged documentation, she contends.

“I haven’t attested a single work permit since April. How are they entering? Why are they still coming at all?” she asks.

“Recently I caught one Maldivian man who was bringing in over 1800 people. I asked him, ‘what will you do with them?’ He said there were ‘many projects’. I asked him to show me the projects and he couldn’t.

“I asked him if he had cleared this with the Ministry of Human Resources, Youth and Sports. I rang to check and it had – it was attested by one of the ministries of this government.

“I signed but had questions in my mind – why were the terms and conditions so small? There should be pages and pages – for 1800 people there should be hundreds of pages, and details of the project.

“But I had doubts in my mind so declared my signature null and void within Bangladesh within 4-5 days. I checked the company – it took me months – and then I found out the whole thing was a scam totalling over US$300 million.

“Those people would have come [to Male’] had I not checked. Had I not done it, 1800 people would have sold their homes and become delinquent in the Maldives. This did not bother a Maldivian broker – hell is not good enough for the people who are doing this.”

Maldives placed on human trafficking watch-list

Most cases that arrive at the High Commission involve trafficked workers. The problem is large enough to have attracted the attention of the US State Department, which placed the Maldives on its watch-list for human trafficking following what it described as the government’s “failure to investigate or prosecute trafficking-related offenses or take concrete actions to protect trafficking victims and prevent trafficking in the Maldives.”

In its 2010 Human Trafficking report – published less than a month after the Maldives was given a seat on the UN Human Rights Council – the State Department estimated that half the Bangladeshis in the Maldives had arrived illegally “and most of these workers are probably victims of trafficking”.

It highlighted the construction and service sectors as primary offenders, and noted the prevalence of “fraudulent recruitment practices, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or non-payment of wages, and debt bondage.”

Most trafficking in the country involves exploitation of foreign labour, according to Professor Mohsin, “but in extreme cases it has been for prostitution.”

After repatriating a Bangladeshi girl who had been forced into prostitution in the Maldives, Professor Mohsin ceased attesting work permits for Bangladeshi women altogether.

“I said I would allow no more women. I will not allow any more Bangladeshi women to come to the Maldives because they are used for the wrong purposes. I have even met young boys who work in houses and are physically assaulted. I have spoken to people to whom this has happened: I told one guy, just give me a complaint and I will catch the person. But he was too scared [of retaliation].”

Government complicity

Professor Muhsin acknowledged that government’s response to her outcry might be “Why is the Bangladeshi High Commissioner creating such a racket?”

“But tell me – if every day you are inundated with dozens and dozens of workers who are in a state of shock – then it becomes a very big issue for me. I have to know why they aren’t rigorous enough at the airport.”

With a single international airport funnelling foreign workers into the country, the Maldivian authorities should be able to fix the problem any time they want, Professor Mohsin contends.

“[Bangladesh] has many airports and a very porous border: we share thousands of miles with India. Some people even have houses half in Bangladesh and half in India, such was the border drawn by Sir Radcliffe. That’s why it is very easy to cross to South India and fly to the Maldives.

“But in Maldives there is only one international airport, and people have to come out of it. Tell me – if you don’t want me in your house, how can I enter? How can I enter if the door is locked?

“What I want to say is: stop them at the airport. If your database is correct, if you are rigorous, if you have scanned their passport as you say, then you at least have a copy of the passport. If you are the employer [to whom the quota is allocated] you know the broker. Nobody is taking this seriously enough.”


State Minister for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem said he was “very concerned” at the “strong wording” in the US State Department’s report, noting that human trafficking was “a very harsh term” to describe people brought to the Maldives by unscrupulous employers and agents.

“Anyone can get a [tourist] visa on arrival, and we don’t discriminate just because somebody is Bangladeshi,” he said.

He observed that all employment agents were registered with the Ministry of Human Resources: “I think they have a lot of knowledge about the problem and know exactly what is going on,” he said.

“We are researching the issues mentioned in the [State Department’s] 2010 report. There are a lot of illegals here and not enough jobs – we’re looking into the mater.”

Hussein Ismail, Deputy Minister for Human Resources, claimed it was “impossible” to enter the Maldives with forged documents, “because whatever employment approval we issue is electronically copied to immigration and checked against a person’s name. The database is shared, so they know when an employment visa has not been issued.”

When a work permit is approved it must be used within 50 days, “so there will be [arrivals] pending,” he noted, even if a High Commission were to cease attesting work permits.

Rights and treatment

The rights and treatment of Bangladeshi workers – including those employed legally – remains an issue for the Maldives.

“I once had somebody call me to say he was surrounded by 500 Bangladeshis because their salaries had not been paid for one year,” recalls Professor Mohsin. “I called the employer – I was very annoyed. He said to me: ‘I will not pay their salaries. What are you going to do about it?”

When workers fell into such a situation, she explains, they had little legal recourse or judicial instruments, and any civil case was conducted in Dhivehi to the bewilderment of the worker – even if they could find a lawyer.

“It is incumbent on the government of the Maldives to provide legal services to those who have been deprived of their rights to their salary – it should not be my business,” Professor Mohsin says.

Even the Immigration Department does not employ a Bangla speaker, despite the scope of the problem and their contribution to the economy, relying instead on the Bangladeshi High Commission to provide interpreters. An immigration official confided to Minivan News that while they were aware of problems with brokers, the language barrier made it difficult to determine what was going on when the worker arrived. Instead, he said, the Department relied on glimmers obtained from workers who approached authorities after they had acquired some Dhivehi, often when departing the country.

Professor Mohsin said she was at a loss to describe the abysmal treatment of Bangladeshi workers in the Maldives, given the centuries of close cultural association between the two countries.

“Historically things like tobacco smoking and rice eating were all learned from Bengal, because the Maldives had nothing but cowry shells,” Professor Mohsin says. “That was the Maldives’ only export – what would traders bring back in return? Rice, textiles, tobacco, wood… one of the country’s rulers was even a Bengali princess.

“I find it very painful now that a Maldivian coming from such a tiny country, and dependent on others for food, can look down on Bangladeshi workers who are doing all the menial work that no Maldivian will do. Why have they changed suddenly? What is this ethos that allows the country to employ workers from other countries and treat them so badly?”


58 thoughts on “Exploitation of Bangladeshi workers worth hundreds of millions, says former High Commissioner”

  1. Oh my! This is such a nightmare. Where are all the human rights NGOs and the human rights council?

  2. goverment need to do some thing about it. we have to depand on Bangladeshi workers, the system need to reform, we need to reform WP visa.before we didnt had any problem like this.after this goverment came every things are going bad.

  3. We, Maldivians, are bloody racist bunch of sad people. We treat our neighbors so badly, forgetting that we're also as brown and as dark as they are. No human deserves to be treated like that, even if they didn't earn as much as we do.

    What's more sad is the shocking indifference of the government and the whole society at large to this humanitarian disaster! Utter shamelessness.

  4. Dear Professor Muhsin, I would like to congratulate you on the wonderful work you have done so far for your pple. It feels good to know that you are trying.

    But there are other instances where bangladeshi workers come as tourist as we have a system of free tourist entry. The initial plan is to get a job after they come here. But alas, they end up jobless and cant afford to go back bcz by the time they arrive, dey r already in debt.

    The exploitation problem will exist into the future with the current laws in action. The main problem is our country's big business men and their lack of planning and management...and also intentional gain. Likewise you sed, a sack has only one opening. it has only one way to get in. So how ur pple get in is also a question of the current corruption level inda country. It cannot be stopped as the businessmen finance the corruption. I can bet that there is not 1 businessman who can clear his hands from that sin in the maldives.

    We used to cook a handful of rice at our homes to feed 10 pple. but that also we shared with our neighbor thinking that they might be starving..but now, we cook more than we eat and even though the next house is starving, we find it a superior thing to put it all to dustbin. Thats what we have become.

    Reason for Bengali to come to do the heavy and dirty works are due to also government rules and laws. A businessman's dream is a low wage employee. They can pay 100 USD a month and get off wth it. A Maldivian will not work for 100 USD a month...there has been certain times when the labour laws have been revised to implement a standard salary..but that is also a very small rate. The highest revenue earning sector in the Maldives, the tourism industry..look at what the government did to them...so small wages for the biggest earners who practically finance the government and the civil SERVANTS. The reason was that pple like Mr. buruma Gasim were seated at law table who own big resorts in Maldives; to make the decision about wages for tourist industry workers. So these pple will not stop. pple who sold their humanity for money.

    The govt could make laws to change all this..to stop the illegal entries...but that would happen the day we stop the drug shipments coming inda country..One pipeline..so many servers.

  5. It is painful and humiliating to see my fellow Maldivians treating these poor Bangladeshis and Indians this way.

  6. I agree with you Khalid. It is becoming outrageous day by day; and worse is that Maldivians, especially the younger generation is recognizing this as acceptable behavior to discriminate, humiliate and abuse them.

    Too bad we are all absorbed in these ridiculous political qualms.

  7. Racism towards indians, Bangaldeshees are engrained deep in our lifestyle now. Practically Maldivians treat them worse than garbage. And we do not feel shame at all. A very sorry state we are in now.

    And then we talk about our glorious religion, all bells and whistles... Pure hypocrisy. I say, dont any body talk about religion, how great it is that we are 100%, until the base concepts of our religion are practiced. Treat humans as humans first, before you start opening your mouth!

    Oh i forgot, infidels and women can be treated as lower class... yeah...

  8. This is so shameful. We have become a society that finds it quite acceptable to treat Bangladeshis as subhuman.

    Our kids are growing up thinking this is acceptable behaviour. Everywhere you go, now you see some Maldivian harrassing a Bangalhi.

    Whats worse is even these religious preachers don't talk about it, after all aren't these people our brothers and sisters cause they are also Muslims.

    This government should wake up and do something about this horrific practise, instead of finding excuses.

  9. The culture of Maldives has over time developed that of backstabbing treachery and and its turning out quite frankly unremarkable.

    A visiting foreigner who was photographer told me he walked around Male' trying to find a smile and never found a genuine smile. The people is that of bleakness and depression.

  10. Reading this report really saddens me. I think there needs to be an effort to change attitudes towards work at a younger level. Living overseas for a few years, I have experienced racial discrimination, and when I go back home and see my friends treating so called "bangaalhis" this way really pisses me off.
    Perhaps the government needs to address the labour legislations and introduce a minimum wage??
    The work is there, if we can get more Maldivians working, at reasonable wages, maybe it would address the crime rates in the country as well

  11. Hussein Ismail, Deputy Minister for Human Resources, should comprehend that one of the most corrupt ministry in this country was and is Ministry for human resources, especially labor section.. Just changing the name of ministry doesn’t actually change anything, to enlighten your memory I would just like to ask the deputy minister: in which year was the data based of your ministry scrambled? Was it a inside job? Was anybody brought to justice? If so how much do you trust the same people who works inside that corrupt section of yours? Have ever wondered to look at some of your staffs’ luxury life which barely meets with their salary? And what steps are you taking to counter these horrendous acts of your staffs? Are you competent enough to understand what transnational organized crime is? As your self these questions minister!!
    Then there goes another state minster condemning the acts, please ministers that’s not enough, our diplomats must learn from foreign diplomats, they care about their nations and their nationals security is their first priority.. Here in Maldives a dancer also can become a high commissioner in matter of seconds .. if president wills! Our tradition was high commissioners prime responsibility is to send daily parcels to presidential palace and to foreign minister, they never ever cared about the nationals .. they don’t even have a clue ?

  12. I say we need a government that can operate effectively with regulations and laws that can be enforced and implemented. We are not all operating a gov, politicians are fighting for power and party system is a mess that creates more discrepancies rather than an effective gov. We have to be more rigid on WP and I thought with the new gov foreign employment will be reduced but in fact it has increased this year as well. This is a shame to our country while all this dirty work is created by businessmen and politicians. We have all these issues and more on our hand yet we are still trying to create unlimited no. of commissions and set high salaries also retirement benefits (which is a more replica of rich or developed countries). I plea to ban this political system and try to run a gov.

  13. Unfortunately Maldivian boasting of being a Muslim nation treating another poor muslim nation is aweful.Its damn disgraceful and surely Maldives government could do more to curb this human trafficking.

  14. I do not know whether Minivan News represented government comments in a bad light, the fact that the paper is apparently pro-government makes this unlikely, but comments by the SM and the DM quoted above seem extremely insensitive, protectionist and almost like an outright denial of the issue.

    Therefore one may conclude that the political will is certainly lacking to tackle this issue. Then, as a previous commenter has pointed out, comes big business. The industry of construction is one sector of the formal economy which surely rivals the fishing industry for pure profitability. The construction industry also possesses the ability to pull some major strings in government circles. Therefore appealing to revenue-obsessed businessmen to willingly raise the costs of production seems like a fool's errand.

    Ingrained supremacist attitudes and a misguided class consciousness renders our civil society and general public toothless in the face of powerful vested interests.

    However, one must celebrate the fact that Proffessor Muhsin has been outspoken on this issue. A previous high commissioner I met with as part of a project I worked on at local NGO, Maldivian Detainee Network, was apathetic about the issue for reasons which still remain unclear to me.

    Expatriate workers are being used for more than indentured servitude in the service and construction sectors of our formal economy. They are employed as scapegoats in the lucrative drug trade. The revolving door policy of our Department of Immigration allows for those implicated in crimes to re-enter without much effort.

    They are also consumers in the prostitution industry and the sale of black market goods. Low-end real estate markets exist for their housing. Media reports are a start and I applaud Minivan News and its staff who worked on this report for a job well done. Hope you'll keep up the pressure.

  15. How on earth is it possible that any Bangladeshi Person inferior to a Maldivian that they have to be treated this way? Its simply outrageous! I wish the High Commissioner was even harsher on her words!

  16. I understand that anyone can come to Maldives as a tourist disregard of their nationality (which I think is great)but I don't understand why the officials can't solve the problem by ensuring that tourists have a return ticket (to leave the country within a month, since that's how long a tourist visa is valid), a booking at a hotel or a valid residence, and enough money to stay. If they do this job well, then surely they would know who is here illegally! The other option would be to have more strict visa regulations for Bangladeshis and Indians and any other nationals who are easily victimised in this human trafficking network. Although that would be a bit unfair and most likely harm bilateral relationships with our beloved neighbours, it would atleast stop the discrimination they would face later on and stop their citizens from being forced to live illegally. I think we can atleast MINIMISE the problem of low-skilled workers coming through as tourist by doing this.

    BUT, that doesn't at all solve the problem of people coming through with work permits and then being stranded at the airport. If the ministry really does have all the registered agents, then why can't they stop this by taking effective action against it??!And the 'State Minister for Foreign Affairs' Ahmed Naseem is still concerned about the strong wording of the US report and not the issue at hand!! What strong word?! The report doesn't even go into detail about the absolute xenophobia which Bangladeshis face in this so called paradise. Infact why the government isn't even doing enough to stop this is because their is no pressure from the people (which by the way doesn't justify the authorities for not doing their job). Most Maldivians (especially the youth these days) have no respect to migrant workers eventhough we depend on them for everything from cleaning our toilets to taking our children to school. Most people here are so haughty AND LAZY that even the least educated and unqualified person would rather do nothing than do the so called 'dirty, hard jobs' that these foreigners do (and many are forced to do). Not to mention the discrimination that even professional workers from Bangladesh and India face here.

    WE all need to start working on solving this problem here and now. And that cannot involve kicking out all the migrant workers because whether we like it or not we need them. The population of Maldives is small (and the fertility rate is low), we hardly have two people in the country who are professionals, are too proud to do the menial jobs and yet the country is developing. So we need foreign labour. So we better start respecting those who we need. It amuses be that some Maldivians say things like "bodu balaaeh mi bangalhin thakaahethi" when the country can barely function without them. But above all, it's not because we need them that should we respect migrant workers; it's because FOR GOD'S SAKE THEY ARE HUMANS JUST LIKE US.

  17. Dear ex-High Commissioner. While I have total empathy with you regarding what you said about human trafficking and exploitation and condemn these practices without reservation, I would like to point out some ignorant generalisations you have made. '... because the Maldives had nothing but cowry shells". Wrong. The Maldives had fish, textiles and coconut products including rope that were exported. Maldivians were-self sufficient in food and largely depended on local produce such as fish, coconut, root crops, screwpines, fruits and vegetables. Rice was consumed only in Male until relatively recently. Besides, being self-sufficient in food is not and indicator of and economy’s strength. Singapore is totally dependent on other countries for all its food and yet it is a First World country. Who was this Bangladeshi princess who ruled the Maldives? Someone with part-Bengali descent doesn’t automatically become a Bengali princess, dear High Commissioner. Are you now forgetting that your country was ruled by Mughal nawabs and British kings and queens for centuries? If you wish to take Maldivians to task, and you should on the matter of human trafficking, first get your basic general knowledge rights. Otherwise you are not being very diplomatic at all, High Commissioner, and your commendable efforts will become counterproductive. Perhaps you ought to go back to being a professor rather than being a diplomat.

  18. Agree with Mohiseen, Doctors are treated badly in islands, even man handled so many times in island . Even doctors reqritment is a sky million dollar business, recently one of the maldivian famous doctors and his doctor friend working in adk took the advantage of their power took a letter from deputy minister of health stating that they are doing voluntary service for recruiting a good doctor have outsourced to madras agent and charging 2000 usd to 3000 usd from the doctors since many doctors from south India knows the situation and ill treatment of doctors they are targeting orissa, madyapradesh and north india, doctors please awake and raise your voice,
    maldivian doctors who ill treated indian doctors are studied and got their degree from india and nepal.

  19. Let's face it, our economy is dependent on cheap Bangaalhis who we get to do all our dirty jobs for a pittence and if they complain we abuse them. Everyone is in on it. No Maldivian is innocent.

    We are no better than the Arabs who also think they are so high, mighty and pure and get Bangaalhis to build their office block, clean their trash and sweep their streets.

  20. Sad, Professor Selina Muhsin did not mention about the prince... . Good reporting , but at the wrong time.

  21. labour ministry was a mafia headquaters for human trafficking. and the don is still free enjoying all his gains...why has not mdp taken any action against maatte and his boys who were at labour? all the senior directors of labour ministry had these agencies and everything is evident from the audit reports. even the database was designed to be manipulated. there are lots of evidence but nothing is investigated. in time all the evidence will disappear and mdp's riyaasee commision is just allowing it...coz the people involved are of no interest to them politically...

    mdp is no better than the former regime. they just have a better disguise. and they just know how to play the game better.

  22. Surely this must make people realize that no matter the religious or ethnic background we are all capable of atrocities unspeakable to whatever higher power we may or may not think exists. The fundamentalist’s point of view that the West is wrecking what was once a clean Maldivian society certainly has to be proven wrong, without a shadow of a doubt. Not to say that fundamentalists in America for one aren’t as mind blowingly narrow minded. Also, the trafficking and acceptance of Mexican immigrants in the U.S is very similar to this sorry story.
    What is different is that this is a massive source of income for The Maldivian economy even before the immigrant has arrived on Maldivian shores. The Maldivian economy is based on two things, the importation of western middle classes in the fields of engineering, education, tourism, the media, and government. Let’s face it, every sector of Maldivian society is heavily influenced by this class as their qualified or experienced Maldivian counterpart does not exist. Secondly, and most importantly in this case, the trafficking of Bangladeshi workers from direct profit by people traffickers and exploitation of workers once in the country. If this trafficking did stop then the Maldives would collapse into itself within a matter of minutes. To call this society a democracy, where everyone is treated equal is the biggest crime of this current political era.
    I am not religious like the majority of people on this small planet but I understand the views and respect people’s right to practice what they preach. If this society is based on the crescent moon of Islam, does it not say in the book of that religion that you should treat and care for all Muslim brothers. As far as I am aware Bangladesh is also an Islamic nation under the same crescent moon. Ironical. Food for thought.

  23. I have never in my life witnessed racism gone this bad anywhere else in the world...

  24. Bangladesh is the poorest and the least educated country among the nations of Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

    Once on a visit to Maldives, on an Air Lanka flight, I met a well-dressed man looking like a Maldivian, who showed me his passport. From his passport, I saw that he was a Bangladeshi.

    He was totally illiterate in Dhivehi and English, both of which languages are very important in the Maldives.

    I suspect that he could not either read or write even in his own mother-tongue: Bengali.

    Uneducated and poor people are handicapped in all nations.

    Even in the UK, Bangladeshis are the weakest people among the South-Asian origin communities.

    The foreign minister in the previous Maldivian government had told me about the problem with Bangladeshis, at immigration control, at Male Airport.

    Human Rights is a very new concept in the Maldives, and human rights violations are huge even between the Maldivian citizens themselves.

    Maldivians are not used to foreigners; even foreigners who look like Maldivians: for example Bangladeshis.

    Maldivians have not been going to Bangladesh for centuries. The nation of Bangladesh was born only in the 1970s.

    I believe that there are already far too many foreigners in the Maldives. The nation of Maldives cannot cope with foreigners in such large numbers.

    To prevent what is being described as "human traficking of Bangladeshis by unscrupulous Maldivian agents", I suggest that there be more co-operation between the Bangladeshi High Commission in Male and Immigration Control at Male Airport.

    I also suggest that language tests, in Dhivehi and English languages, should be made compulsory for Bangladeshis coming to Maldives to work.

    Further, steps should be taken to prevent Bangladeshis from misusing and abusing the one-month travel visa offered at Male Airport.

  25. This was not a secret at all. All most everyone living in these small and closed communities that we are living in Maldives knew this. Not only hands of businessmen are dirty in this issue, but the whole nation directly and indirectly got involved in it. We(most of Maldivians) had so conveniently & ideologically transformed ourselves into "Rich Arabs" of South Asia. This may sound unpatriotic for some people, but I believe, to give consent to such evils and to be silent is more unpatriotic.

    And I quote:”Pride and stubbornness seems to run in our veins ...” (Salim Waheed on http://minivannewsarchive.com/politics/icj-and-former-un-special-rapporteurs-to-help-maldives-strengthen-judiciary-10329

    Salim is very correct in assessing actual Maldivian mindset. This is the real issue in our society....That is “Ikhlas tharikan nethun”

    And real “Ikhlas therikan” is purity of faith, See Chapter 112, The Glorious Quran, Al-Ikhlas (The Purity of Faith)

    In Almighty GOD we Trust

  26. while agreeing that we (Maldivian) have some problems in treating foreign workers, one should also closely see the other side of the story. Few things i have experienced/noticed:

    #a lot of Bangladheshi's come to Maldives knowing the situation and most of the time they get all sorts of ideas by meeting fellow countrymen/women during the weekend get-to-gathers. in a way they just want to get into the country and then seek better salaries (mostly illegal work). a lot of them who employ them are actually Bangladeshi's themselves (either working illegally or married to a Maldivian just for the sake of being in the country).
    #I find it strange that the reporter did not do more research or fail to report on the dealings on the Bangladesh side. these agents in Bangladesh actually rob their countrymen and paint the rosy picture. do you think it is going to be easy to get this 3/4 of the share (alleged illegal money) from them.
    #In many case the truth is that it is a Bangladeshi himself in Maldives who organize this human trafficking. the sad thing is that innocent Maldivians falls in their traps to sign the documents. I agree there are Maldivian crooks who do this for a few bugs, but the real millions is pocketed by Bangladeshi's.
    #it is not an excuse for Bangladeshi authorities to pass on the ball by saying that they have porous border. if they want to tackle the problem, it can be done by them as well. why don't they try to tackle it by themselves. may be some millions go into their pockets as well.

    well, i can go on.. but the truth is we have problem of our own and it doesn't help when the other side only tries to pass the blame without trying to address it. the truth is we can do much better without these Bangladeshi's. at least, even forcefully, some of the Maldivians will get some job and that will help to keep them away from violence and drugs.

  27. This is a very disturbing article and on the outset a disgrace to Maldives and the people. While most said by the professor is agreeable, I think there is lot of exergeration in this. It is obvious that this is a big business since several years and to name few started by the former labour ministry under Yamin. These are the routes they got rich and this is being practiced still by people and the ministry personals, immigration officials, and the foreign agents with cuts to the foreign officials involved in the sectors.
    This is a very easy thing to stop if the government's really wants. But many are benefiting from this including the relevant foreign embassy's. Everyone involved gains out of this. The reason is all invloved is spending on this course for something; to create the problme or to solve the problem of the worker(s)
    I wonder why the Bangladeshi government fails to control this. It is easy for them and they can solve the problem before the person(s) arrives in Maldives. But they too do not wnat to stop this as there is much monies involved.
    I think there is no reason to blame the Maldives and the people for not treating bangladeshi's 'nicely'. The bangladeshi community in Maldives is taking much advantage and living a good life (nothing worse than what they have in their own country). The main reason for all this or the so called human trafficking is done by these bangladeshi people and agents by paying huge sums of monies to the local agents, high officials.

    Shame on the governments. You create the problems and blame the people.

    Naseem(kerafa), what can you do to solve this problem. Nothing! You were one chief who created these things for your won good and got rich together with Yamin. But today you are not ashamed to work for this government claming that you are democrat.

    The country has enough bangladeshi's now. Why do yo want to spend money(half in your pocket) and do a research. Why not BAN the bangladeshi for the moment. Have a limit for foreign worker from each country and just say that bangladeshi's limit is full. Simple! no more bangladeshi could enter Maldives. Ofcourse they can enter as a tourist and have enough funds with them and a hotel booing or whatever is in the procedure. These can be checked and solved. But Ban the rest.

    Is this a problem?? C'on just for one once foregt about your CUT and do something for the community.

  28. Dear Ibrahim

    I agree it is the Bangladeshi's fault. The Maldivian people have nothing to do with people trafficking. The reporter is exaggerating. Bangladeshi's have a great life here and are treat with the utmost respect. It is also just the Maldivian government's fault and not any of the Maldivian people. However, sarcasm is not my strong point.

  29. @No Vote 4 Any 1
    you are so right. just look at the hypocrisy of these bleeding heart liberals...maatte is the one person who lead this racket of human trafficking yet he is still respected among them. he is invited to tv and other occasions. most of those who comment here would be happy to get a smile from him...and i guess he must be close to anni via abujee...so he's untouchable...sad huh?

    don't concern yourself too much about what happens on the other side. just concern yourself about our home country and what we can do...you're the kind we need less and less. just like haveeru news who sympathize with the recruiting agencies and publish articles about them...

    and where are the 'dheenee jama'th'. they hardly speak about this problem. our muslim brothers in modern slavery and trampled our feet, maybe thats why they don't see them either...do your job adhaalath. maybe you should think why you didn't win a seat the last time...

  30. If people in Maldivian government weren't behind this whole scam, it would be an easy problem to fix. There's one airport where people can enter this country so it's not like there are hundreds of immigrants arriving by boat everyday. Officials at the airport could enforce the same regulations for all tourist visas regardless of nationality; return ticket, hotel reservation and sufficient monetary funds.

    These people are getting in because the Maldivian economy depends on their exploitation. If you don't want foreigners here, don't let them in. Maldives doesn't need foreigners to do the jobs that Indians and Bangladeshis are doing anyway. If foreign workers are eliminated, businesses will be forced to pay a higher wage to Maldivians. It would also solve the overcrowding problem in Male'. Does the government and big business here really care about the welfare of Maldivians? Doubtful, since they would rather make money off of human trafficking and give jobs away to foreigners at the same time. Win-win for them!

  31. the onus is not only on Maldives but Bangladesh should have mnore stricter controls from their side..in many cases these frauds are commmited by bangladeshis working here who lure their fellow citizens back home into coming here for financial gain

  32. Wine Lover: you have lost the point... JJR, thanks for this very detailed report... I believe the government should be reading this, and doing something about it...

  33. This is the reality, what ever polished speeches Dr.Shaheed and President Nasheed give on various forums abroad, does not make any difference, unless they address the real issues in the country. I dont know what we can talk in UN human rights council, if things in our backyard is in this way.

  34. why is it that the comments reflect a more unbiased attitude now?? this is surreal... This sublime uncaring attitude was promulgated by the Maumoom, the previous dictator, and his cronies in the govt then.. they have twisted the very fabric or the maldivian society to such an extend that fathers dont give a s..t about their kids and the kids dont give sh.t about their parents. The only rule of the day is self gratification.. and to hell with anything else. Maldives is a failed state with all the associated problem that comes with it. Recently the present president was lamenting about a carbon neutral society but the vehicles into Male' keep on increasing. this goes on to show how well policies are being framed.most of the expats are treated as shit in Maldives with the exception of a few westerners, not because of any feeling of comraderie or inferiority complex but because their goverments are a bit more organised and involved. My suggestion to the high commisiioner would be to get your act together and start organising from your end. The Maldivian end would never go beyound lip service because the people in power are the ones who benifit from the blood of the masses.

  35. It is a fallacy to believe that the governments can fix this. The government and its officials have been the main culprits who have facilitated such a thing. So asking for ihlaastherikan or cooperation or whatever is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.

    The correct solution I believe, is the proper functioning of the judicial system, where bangladeshis can take the employer to court (singly or as class-action suits), and be given a fair trial. Be it for reasons of non-payment of salaries, holidays, ticket, working or living conditions, breach of contract etc. The laws are already there for enforcing that.
    And this includes also bangladeshi's being able to take government labour ministry or any other ministry to court. Government should not be immune from lawsuits. This way the institutions of the government can be held responsible as well. Everyone should be equal infront of the law (be it employer, bangladeshi, government etc), citizens and non-citizens. If we are to treat foreign labour as human beings, we should recognize and protect the rights of the foreign labour.

    Secondly, some have suggested banning/quota limits/english tests etc for foreign workers. Foriegn workers are here because they are cheap labour. With quota limits or bans, it is ultimately the maldivian comonners who will be paying the higher prices for products and services. The businesses will always pass the costs onto consumers.

    Some suggest that we ban low-skilled workers or require stringent tests (such as english tests). The reality is that those who have the low skill and those who are not educated enough to pass those stringent tests are the ones who are poorer even in their own countries. They come here hoping for better opportunities than their own countries. So by such measures we are denying them the opportunity they seek here. The problem of fraud should still be addressed as mentioned above whether it is lowskilled or high skilled workers.

  36. great article Mr Robinson. I was shocked reading it and after doing so, changed my view on the entire issue. But I still think you are making the mistake of looking at the whole issue as an outsider looking in. I suggest you try looking at it through the eyes of a Maldivian. I am 25 years old. I am old enough to remember a time when Maldivians took pride in blue-collar work. Basically everything we get the Bangladeshis to do today, we as people did ourselves without complaing. Some may say it was out of necessity but at least the jobs got done. Not to mention the domestic duties. Somehow as a society, Maldivians became too affluent and subsquently, lazy. If there is demand, there is supply and if we Maldivians have anyone to blame, it is ourselves. We complain about Bangla workers in this country but they would not be here in such large growing numbers if there was not such a high demand for their cheap labour. This plays right into the hands of corrupt local agents looking to make a quick fortune with the cooperation of government officials, who are part of the problem whether they know it or not. I disagree with some people on this comments board who are painting Bangladesh as some sort of innocent victim country. It is not our fault that Bangladesh cannot control its population and provide them with employment and education. Its not our fault these people are so desperate, they would give up everything and come to a country they no nothing about. I have no sympathy with Bangladeshis when they are outside our borders. Only when they are inside it do I care... ok not really.

  37. once an innocent bangladheshi who is 16 years came to me and begged for a job. he doesnt have a visa, or work parmit. he told me he has nothing to eat no home to sleep. his friends have thrown him out and his boss is not paying salary for him for like an year or more.so he stoped working for him. he has sold their home in bangldhesh and some or the other way he has to get a job. i felt sorry for this guy but could help him. he has no visa or work permit.

    who is at fault. how do we solve this. to some extent its the law that the parliments are lacking to pass. if we had a law which can prevent all this it would have been much more less. as most of the parlimentarians are business man they dont want to pass such a bill as this will reduce their pocket.

    and i find that its not just the maldivian broker who is taking advantage of these pple. but their own pple " bangladhes brokers" who is putting their own men into a mess.

    its pitty that government and the concerned organisations are lacking to investigate this.

  38. this is an example of many such incidents.
    A bangladeshi was on his bike at the traffic lights. He was trying to squeeze in between a taxi and a motor bike. The guy just merely brushed the taxi. The very proud driver got out and hit the guy very hard with the car door as he got out. He didnt really care abt the taxi..if he had he wouldnt have hit the bangladeshi using the door for merely brushing the car.......would that taxi drive done that if it was a white guy on a bike? he would have merely smiled and said please go ahead...scratch my car again and smile back.

    maldivians are racist. Wake up ppl. Our children are being thought to become racists....and there isnt a single thing done about it.

    has anyone ever heard of a teacher in a school telling kids abt human rights? and about discrimiation? no! not in maldives!

  39. very good reporting. am outraged and saddened by the treatment of the workers.

  40. Why don't Bangladesh government start campaign to awareness , Don't blame on one side .. look everywhere

  41. Agree with Meriu. I think the High Commission could show more support by facilitating access to justice and providing translators for their court cases. Also, Philippines, one of the biggest exporters of labour in the world, are an example of a country which is proactive in this regard. They ensure that their workers enter contracts prior to departure and has set a minimum wage. Bangladesh too could certainly do more work to protect their migrant workers.

  42. A word for Professor Muhsin 'if your country people are so money hungry into duping their own innocent people, then it's best not to scream at us'

    You can do better by taking action against the people of your country who are running such scandals.

  43. How we treat Bangladeshi workers in the country is representative of how we view all vulnerable people. Use, Exploit, Violate, Discard. At the heart of who we are being with our expatriate workers, is our moral poverty.

    I find it interesting that on matters that affect human life, we have heard b nothing from the Adhalath Party. It looks like the Adhalath Party only gets activated by the dress code of women and alcohol.


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