Indian authorities report hundreds of workers forced from Maldives without wages

The Indian High Commission in Male’ has said it is aware of hundreds of cases over the last three months where its nationals have gone unpaid, before facing deportation or being forced to return home without their earnings.

State institutions and bodies including the country’s Labour Relations Authority (LRA), police, immigration officials and the foreign ministry have all been accused by the high commission of failing to fulfil their duties, and – in some cases – “deliberately encouraging” the mistreatment of foreign workers.

The concerns have been raised by Indian authorities after the Bangladesh government last week temporarily halted migration of its own nationals to work in the Maldives – unless accredited by the state – over fears they were becoming victims of a “section of unscrupulous recruiting agencies”.

In June, the Maldives was placed on the US State Department’s Tier Two Watch List for Human Trafficking for a fourth consecutive year – with the US State Department noting conditions of “fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or nonpayment of wages, and debt bondage”.

Indian High Commission sources – citing the example of the Bangladesh Government – said that its own authorities should now consider similar intervention after increasing instances of workers being denied salaries and basic human rights.

“No employer can take a foreign national’s passport, yet this is happening. Some semi-literate workers who are here cannot draft letters or seek justice. Without pay they cannot go to the Civil Court,” said a commission source.

“So they are having to leave the country either with no salary, or instead compromising and getting just some of the money they are owed. Ultimately their employers just contact agents and then bring new workers to the country.”

Minivan News was last week shown several files containing correspondence by the Indian High Commission detailing its communications with Maldivian private employers who have not provided expatriates their wages, despite accepting that payments are owed to former Indian staff.

The majority of promises for financial reimbursement remain unfulfilled at time of press, with the employees in question having been forced to return home or turn to the high commission for food and support, Indian authorities have said.

Commission support

Indian nationals Santosh Kumar Ram and Harendra Kumar are the latest expatriates forced to leave the Maldives, after unsuccessfully pursuing months of unpaid wages that left them without food or income, and forced to beg their own government for financial support.

An official for the Indian High Commission said that the two men, who had both been in the Maldives since last year, had communicated their concerns on July 22, 2013, alleging they had not been paid by their employer for the final six months of their employment.

Despite the intervention of the high commission, both men – who had been staying in shelter provided by their employer – had been declared absconders by the state, resulting in them leaving the country this week as deportees. Their former employer, who denied responsibility for the two men, did provide return flights for the two Indian nationals, but declined to pay them the earnings claimed to be outstanding.

“This is completely unacceptable,” said a diplomatic source with knowledge of the case.

While provided shelter by their employer – who has denied ever employing Santosh Kumar Ram and Harendra Kumar – the two men have not been given food, relying instead on the commission to ensure they were fed.

The two men had previously sought support at the Department of Immigration and Emigration’s shelter for undocumented workers in Male’, opened this year as part of attempts to offer a more “humane” means of tackling the issue of unregistered foreign workers in the country.

However, the high commission said both expatriates were denied assistance at the shelter as their then-employer, despite not providing food, had given them accommodation.

In a similar case earlier this year, the Indian High Commission said another six of its nationals had been forced to leave the country without four months of salaries they were owed by their employer. The commission argued that they could not afford to remain in the country for ongoing legal action to claim their money.

In a letter seen by Minivan News, one employer said that delayed payments to the six workers was related to the “financial crises”, but promised the Indian High Commission the debt would be settled.

The six affected workers, since returned to India, are still waiting for their earnings at time of press.

High commission sources said that they had also been made aware of semi-literate foreign nationals being sent to other islands by their employers for non-existent work.  Once on another island, they were then being reported as having fled the company with whom they are registered for their visa.

Department of Immigration Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Munaaz and Chief Superintendent of Immigration Zubair Muhammad were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Minivan News was also awaiting a response from the Foreign Ministry at time of press over the high commission’s concerns.

“Systematic abuse”

Immigration Controller Dr Mohamed Ali has previously told Minivan News that while almost all foreign workers coming to the Maldives arrive under registered companies, some were finding themselves “illegally used” by employers due to “systematic abuse” of the visa system.

Foreign low-wage workers are often lured to the country by agents after paying a ‘recruitment’ fee or entering into debt – sometimes as high as several thousand dollars – that is shared between local agents and recruiters in the country of origin, most significantly Bangladesh.

In many cases the workers are then brought into the country ‘legitimately’ by a specially-created paper company, created using the ID of a complicit or unwitting Maldivian national, for the stated purpose of working on a ‘construction project’ of dubious existence.

The exact scale of the Maldives’ unregistered foreign workforce remains unknown, with estimates ranging from between around 40,000 people to potentially double that amount.

In April, Immigration Controller Dr Mohamed Ali confirmed that authorities had targeted the return of 10,000 unregistered workers by the end of the 2013.

The pledge to return a pre-determined number of expatriates was criticised at the time by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM), which raised concerns that some workers were potentially being punished for the actions of employers or agents acting outside the law.


26 thoughts on “Indian authorities report hundreds of workers forced from Maldives without wages”

  1. A country without laws so please do not expect any justice.

    It's a choice of those who want to come to Maldives for work. They should be awware of no job security, no human rights or rule of cannot have laws when trafficking illegal 'cargo'

    The best is to avoid the Maldives.

  2. Dear officials( Indian High Commission) where were you all these days when such cruelty against your nationals was committed? Have you ever approached the authorities to voice out you concerns about these migrant workers before? NOOOOOO. This accusation is a clear indication of vengeance on the part of the Indian High Commissioner Rajieev Shahare being summoned to Ministry of Foreign Affairs on allegations of “interference” with the Maldivian domestic politics. Surely this is high time for Maldives to seek a more reliable international partner.

  3. @tasihiya
    Ur wrong. Indian was patient n has been giving time for authoriries to clean their acts. They reported rhis issue long time ago.
    Like it or not we woild always depend on india otherwise who else is willing to support the present regime? Palestine?

    Time to think straight mt dear friend

  4. @Tashiya
    I agree, India should stop interfering with Maldives. India should also stop allowing citizens to work in Maldives, stop all financial aid and loans and eliminate all exports to Maldives. Good luck finding a more reliable international partner you idiot. Maldives always says it doesn't need other countries telling it what to do. But you sure don't mind having everyone else do your work, give you loans and aid and stay at your resorts. By all means, cut off the outside world except for Saudi... good luck!

  5. @Tashiya.. Its better if you apply your head before making farcical comments. Minivan itself had carried at least 4 reports in last 2 years about Indian High Commission raising the issues. In fact, the visa restrictions by India was started last year, because our Foreign Ministry failed to keep their promise to stop harassment of Indian expats in Maldives.

    It was reported earlier that in a period of one year, Indian High Commission had sent more than 460 letters to our Government about such cases of harassment of Indian workers.

    It s better you make some homework before making absurd allegations.

    So far as finding a 'reliable partner' for Maldives is concerned, the less said the better. Today no nation is willing to give us alms, forget about becoming our 'partners' !!!

  6. You are both right @realty and @Tashiy:

    1. First of all the treatment of expatriate workers is deplorable here in a lot of cases and also results from the incompetence/inefficiency/complacency/complicity of successive Maldivian governments including the Qayyoom administration, Nasheed administration and the current Waheed government.

    2. The Indian High Commission, as a matter or protocol, has until now avoided approaching the press on this issue until now. Foreign missions are based in host countries for diplomacy and not for confrontational politicking.

    3. The Maldivian government is openly pursuing a course of action that can be interpreted as a move to reduce Indian influence in the Maldives.

    3. India has responded by using soft power methods (tightening visa restrictions on Maldivians traveling to India for medical treatment; the method discussed in this article) to make their displeasure known.

    4. What appears to be an apparent shift in policy marks a move away from Indian hegemony in the Maldives. The advisability of such a move is debatable. Meanwhile India's response, in my view, may do more harm than good. Its effectiveness, however, remains to be seen.

  7. I'm gonna go buy some popcorn - watching the battleships bombard the enemy's base will be fun.

  8. @ tashiya
    You bird brain Dodo! Just go and stuff yourself. Think you're smart and analytical??? Go scrape your bottom with broken piece of Indian pottery.

  9. While in the Maldives I saw Indians teachers made to get off the plane that was going to take them back too India because the ministry of Education had not paid the ministry of Immigration the require visa. The same thing with the ministry of Health and Indian doctors.

    As far as I know, the Maldives gets the money to pay for foreign doctors from WHO and from UNICEF to pay the Indian teachers. If this is the case, then, the Maldives are handed in a platter aid ($$$) and instead of thanking the donors and the teachers, doctors and nurses, what I see is "biting the hand that feeds you".

    How long do the Maldives think that this will go on?

  10. @ reality. It’s good to know that at least you re Maldivian with typical Maldivian mentality – the good vs. the Evil and ur always on the right side.
    Yeah let’s think straight. First, in reality we do not have to depend on India, although we are indoctrinated with the belief that we lack sufficient resources and need to depend on imported goods and services possibly from India. Just think more realistically. We used to import rice from Burma instead of India in the past and there is enough evidence to prove that we had good trade relations with China in the ancient times.
    Second, the Russian ambassador meets with the president of Maldives on September 26 and the Chinese ambassador has just met Gayoom. On the opposition side, we have countries like India and the west supporting the opposition.
    The forgone conclusion speaks for itself. Maldives lies in a strategic location for both the West and the East and that’s the reason why our domestic politics is an issue of concern amongst these great power rivalries.

  11. India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh need to ban all nationals from working in Maldives. The Maldivian government itself commits all of the same illegal practices that private employers are guilty of committing on a regular basis (holding passports, delayed or no salary payment, no work visa, etc.) It's the Saudi effect, delusional and uneducated people are brainwashed by a religion that tells them it's okay to treat other people like turds.

  12. Actually if we restructure the pay scale of private sector workers we can reduce the expats by quite a bit. Most of them have fake documents and are easier to hire. But most qualified locals are too demanding, too fussy and looks like gangsters!.

    case in point.
    recently at my workplace we announced an it related job for tender. several parties came. The expats from some companies will come decently dressed file in hand and prepared their best. The local professionals will not bring documents or files and came in their gym outfits! but guess what? the local guys are actually more qualified and knowledgeable than the expat pros.

  13. Tell us one good reason WHY we should NOT throw out the Indians from our land - after all they worship to idols - so better for them to stay on their land -INDIA-, otherwise we may have to go for JIHAAD against these idol worshipers.

  14. Tashiya where were those most reliable partners when Maldives was unknown to outside the world. India maintained, maintains and will maintain good foreign relationship with other countries.It has never done any harm at any time since history began.Never push the ladder once you reached the top you better beed it to climb down.

  15. @ all the above.
    The bottom line is Maldives is not a democratic country and whose citizens do not have the right to choose its government and it is broke- always asking for foreign aid to make ends meet!

  16. This article has made my blood boil.
    Why does the Indian government tolerate the abuse of its citizen by small, insignificant, backward and politically unstable neighbours? Why does an elephant tolerate bullying from an ant?
    If Bangladesh can stop the recruitment of its citizen to stop this human trafficking, why can't we?
    The Indian government should:
    Stop the recruitment of all workers from India immediately.
    Stop exports of foodstuffs, medicines and building materials to Maldives.
    Shut down the visa section at the Indian Embassy in Male and electrify the fence.
    Shut down air and sea links with Maldives.
    Close down Indian airspace to all Maldivian aircraft especially business jets carrying squabbling Maldivian politicians to New Delhi.
    Why o why do we tolerate the abuse of our citizens by Hick nations.....especially those that cannot survive without handouts from us?
    Why don't you morons recruit your doctors from China and your teachers from Pakistan or Saudi Arabia?

  17. @MissIndiaNewD
    All the things u mentioned should be implemented immediately and thanks.

    But you Indians would not do that because that wd free Maldivians from your second rate products . See India needs Maldives more than Maldives need india.,get it

  18. @ Winwin
    You must be seriously brain damaged if you think Maldives is a significant market for Indian goods. With a low income population of only 300,000 people you are truly insignificant in commercial terms.....we need you like we need a dose of a sexually transmitted disease.
    As for our goods being second rate, can you seriously afford first rate goods?
    All you can afford is cheap low quality goods from India and China made especially for low end markets such as yours. The premium products from both countries, which you cannot afford, are exported to Europe and the time you shop see how many products have the MADE IN INDIA and MADE IN CHINA LABEL in your supermarkets.....probably 99%.
    If you are planning a visit to India soon, especially if you are a politician, do us cow worshippers a favour and DON'T BOTHER.
    I think all Maldivians arriving at Indian airports should be searched for drugs.....I mean thoroughly.....bent over and body cavities searched. We all know what a fascination you 'true believers' have for narcotics.....just like your sunni brothers in Terroristan.
    You have so much in common its scary.


  20. What a shame for Maldives! Where is the rule of law in Maldives. A local is always right, no matter what atrocities they do. Never be kind to an Maldivian when it comes to money.

    Salaf, talking of declaring JIHAD against the idol worshippers; i wish to state that even the Sinhalese are idol worshippers. Firstly, do da'wah to your own clan and bring them in to the fold of islam a 100%. Make your land Dar-al-Eeeman before considering Jihad against Indians.

    Please remember when you need your heart ailment fixed you end up at Lanka Hospital or some hospital in Trivandrum. These are the land of the idol worshippers. Why do you end up there?

    Petty mindedness and a narrow view of the world by people like you paint a bad image of muslims. Please for the sake of the Creator, change your attitude and live a decent life.

  21. MissIndia, Your points are well said except for the part of Terroristan and Saudi Arabia. Can you kindly provide the coordinates of TERRORISTAN on a map. i am unaware of a state with such a name.

    Why bring in countries that have no part in this act of the Maldivian employers' act?

    Sunni muslims? Read a bit more about islam. There is no such thing as SUNNI muslim, FYI. Anyone who practices the religion as prescribed in the Quran and Sunnah, is a MUSLIM. Anyone who adds or deducts from those norms are INNOVATORS and have no place in the religion of islam.

  22. Stop fighting and accusing each others please. Matter of fact is that both the countries are equally depend on each other either it is financially or stratigically .

    Let rest of the world fight . Be realistic and be true . There are lot of Indian teacher and doctors who can make their bread in Maldives only I dont want to reveal the fact behind .

    China is always ready to help Maldivian as they dont want India to take over the stretigically strong sea area of Maldives to push China back .

    Of course , we believe in barter system . Give something take something . They are giving us their sea we are giving them foodstuff , teachers, doctors and other things .

    Live and let live guys.

  23. @ Fayad
    Read a bit more about islam?.....whatever for? I have as much interest in islam as I have in quantum physics.
    Why don't you dumb islanders, all 300,000 dimwits with learning difficulties, realise us that there are millions of us 'kuffars' who are happy being hindus, christians, jews, buddhists and sikhs and who have not the slightest interest in your intolerant hate filled religion.
    As for sunni muslims, the 'true believers' and God's Chosen People, aren't you busy bombing and killing other muslims (shias, ahmaddiyas, sufis)in Terroristan?

  24. What is the point to discuss about religion here ? you morons . You are really sick mind people . People like you are real radicals and terror creator . spit spit .....

  25. Lets all live peacefully in this world as we are dependent on each other to lead a harmonious life. All religions teach love,dependency on each other, tolerance and mutual understanding. Human beings including myself make mistakes even minute without realizing, from morning till bedtime so it is time for us to discuss matters and come to an understanding after all this world does not belong to a singe person but for all to live in harmony. India, Maldives, China, Sri Lanka and the rest of the world have intelligent people it is only a matter of discussion that would pave way for living in peace. The youngsters who are going to be the future leaders should be guided properly immaterial of their religious upbringing and ideologies as the Almighty is the judge and the final decision maker. I love the Asians and all the people in the world and being friends with them will give me immense satisfaction. We are children of Adam and Eve the first human creations of the Almighty, lets all celebrate and live in harmony.


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