Police arrests 18 foreigners for gambling

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has arrested 18 foreigners found gambling in Malé.

A police statement said a court warrant was obtained before the arrests were made from a house in the Maafannu ward in Malé. All of those arrested were Bangladeshi nationals.

The MPS said that large sums of money were discovered after searching the house and that the case is now being investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department.


Bangladeshi dies in accident at MTCC Thilafushi site

A Bangladeshi national died in an accident at the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company’s (MTCC) site in the industrial island of Thilafushi on Saturday (August 23).

According to local media, an airbag used in docking burst and flung the Bangladeshi man – an MTCC employee – following impact.

The Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) revealed that despite no sign of visible injuries, he had died of internal injuries and bleeding.


Six expatriates arrested for kidnapping Maldivian man over unpaid wages

Police have taken six expatriates into custody after they allegedly kidnapped a Maldivian on a resort construction site in Alifu Dhaalu atoll.

In a statement issued today, police said that on March 19, a group of 31 expats working on the island created unrest in the island over what it is believed to have been an issue concerning unpaid wages.

Six expatriates who led the unrest then assaulted Maldivians working on the island and kidnapped the Maldivian head of staff, said police.

Officers working in the nearby Mahibadhoo police station and Dhangethi police station conducted a joint operation and raided the island.

According to police, the Maldivian man was tied when officers went to the island, and freed by police at about 1:34pm.

During the police raid, officers discovered iron bars, wooden planks, machetes and box cutters inside the rooms in which the expats were living.

Furthermore, police said that all those taken into custody were Bangladeshi nationals aged between 25 and 35.

When Minivan News contacted police for further information, police media official said they were not providing details of the case as the investigation was ongoing.

Last month, police freed a Bangladeshi national that was kidnapped by two compatriots in Malé, being locked inside a room in Galolhu without water or food for am extended period.

When police searched the room, officers discovered a knife under the pillow of one arrested in connection with the case.

Later the police found out that the victim and the two arrested persons were illegal expats and did not have identifying documents.

On March 9, police also arrested a Maldivian man from Addu Atoll on allegations that he had assaulted two of his expatriate staff.


Police arrest three foreigners for illicit sexual activity

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has arrested three Bangladeshi nationals in the capital Malé last night for engaging ‘illicit sexual activity’.

Two men aged 32 and 34 years, along with a woman of 29 years, were arrested at around 7:30pm after information had been given to Maafannu Police station.

Following the arrest, police found videos of the suspects involved in similar activity.

Police confirmed that sexual activity between foreigners out of wedlock is considered a crime in the Maldives, noting that any reports of unlawful activity will be investigated.

Under Article 173 of the ‘Regulation on the Conduct of Court Proceedings 2003’, a wide range of activities are listed under ‘illicit sexual acts’ without any specific definitions of what comprises an ‘illicit’ sexual act.

It is commonly understood that most sexual acts out of wedlock are considered to be in this category.

The penalty under the article for ‘common’ illicit sexual acts carried out privately is 1 -2 month house arrest , and for ‘serious’ illicit sexual acts carried out privately the sentence is 7 -10 months banishment for men and 7 -10 month house arrest for women.

Homosexual acts and those with a married person, however, result in heavier penalties.

Ways in which a private illicit sexual act can be considered ‘serious’ include the participation of more than two people, photographing of the act, or committing the act in the presence of another person.

Article 190 of the regulation states that, with the exception of flogging, non-muslim foreigners shall be treated the same as Maldivians, while the penal code also makes no exception for foreigners who commit crimes within the jurisdiction of Maldives.

The common practice in cases where foreigners are investigated for illicit sexual acts, however,  is usually deportation without prosecution.

With around one million tourists visiting the Maldives each year, there are no known cases where tourists have been prosecuted for private ‘illicit sexual acts’. Marriage certificates are not a requirement for visiting honeymooners, which surveys suggest comprise nearly a quarter of visitors to the country.

Police have recently looked into such acts allegedly carried out by Maldivians at a Sri Lanka nightclub, while last month President Abdulla Yameen returned the sexual offenses bill to parliament, citing the inclusion of ‘unislamic’ provisions.


One Bangladeshi national killed, a second stabbed in Malé

A 22 year old Bangladeshi construction worker has been killed following a traffic collision in Hulhumalé, local media has reported.

Doctors in Sri Lanka were unable to save the man, who had been airlifted to the country after suffering severe head injuries when knocked from his bicycle by a car.

Police are working with the Housing Development Corporation to investigate the matter.

Meanwhile, a second Bangladeshi national has been stabbed during a mugging in Malé, say reports.

Three men were said to have attacked the truck driver, taking a mobile phone, MVR3,500 and leaving the victim with minor injuries. Police are investigating.


HRCM introduces benchmark for migrant worker rights

Coinciding with the International Migrants Day, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has launched a national benchmark for protecting migrant worker rights.

The benchmark was launched by HRCM President Mariyam Azra and Deputy Minister of Human Resources, Youth and Sports Naaif Shawkath at a ceremony held at Nasandhura Palace Hotel today.

Officials from various stakeholder institutions such as the Maldives Police Service and the Immigration Department were present at the ceremony, later taking part in a forum to discuss the utilisation of this benchmark in their work.

According to the commission, the purpose of having such a benchmark is to encourage protection of the rights of migrant workers and to provide a guideline highlighting the basic human rights principles to be followed.

It is based on the constitution of the Maldives, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW) and other human rights conventions to which the Maldives is a party.

While most of these standards are already obligations on the state, the benchmark itself is not something state institutions are obliged to follow, though the commission members noted the government’s willingness to accept it.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, commission member Jeehan Mahmood said she hoped all institutions would use it as a tool for protecting the rights of migrant workers. She noted the positive response from these institutions in meetings held within past few days to discuss the benchmark’s use in their work.

Advising the government in “formulation of laws, regulations and administrative codes concerning the promotion of a high regard for human rights and the protection and sustenance of such rights” is stated as a key function of the commission in the Human Rights Commission Act.

Speaking at the benchmark launching ceremony Deputy Minister Naaif advised all relevant institutions to accept the benchmark, and thanked HRCM for developing it. He said following it will standardise the work of all institutions.

In a press release issued today, the HRCM called on the state to facilitate implementation of  the recently ratified Anti Human Trafficking Act and reiterated their call to ratify and implement ICRMW as as soon as possible. The Maldives has agreed to ratify and implement this convention on various occasions.

The HRCM has cited the issue of healthcare as major challenge for undocumented migrant workers living in Maldives. According to a video presentation given at the ceremony, such workers hesitate to see a doctor even if they can afford to.

The video also showed that, out of all complaints submitted to the commission regarding rights of migrant workers, 68 percent of cases involved non-payment of wages, unfair expulsions, and the failure to provide food and shelter. 18 percent of cases were said to concern health issues while in detention.

Among other complaints received by the commission are the withholding of travel documents and work visas, refusing leave from work, and the termination of employment contracts without prior notice.

While there is no accurate official figures of the migrant worker population in the Maldives, the highest estimates suggest that it crossed the 100,000 mark in 2011, whilst the number of undocumented migrant workers have been placed as high as 44,000.

These numbers indicate that migrant workers might now represent more than one third of the total population.

The country was this year kept on the US State Department’s Tier Two Watch List for Human Trafficking for the fourth consecutive year, with promises that demotion to the third tier would be guaranteed in 2014 without significant progress being made.


Bangladeshi waiter stabbed while delivering food

A Bangladeshi waiter was stabbed with a knife on the island of Hinnavaru in Lhaviyani Atoll whilst delivering food, local media reports.

A council member from Hinnavaru told local media that the victim had worked at “Ibiza” restaurant on the island, and was stabbed while delivering food to a house.

The councillor said that the Bangladeshi man was stabbed in the stomach, and is currently being treated in the island medical centre. His condition is not serious, the councillor said.

Police told local media that a 17-year-old had been taken into custody in relation to the attack.


American connected to bringing in Christianity books blacklisted from Maldives

An American man has been blacklisted and banned from entering the Maldives after he was linked with a Bangladeshi national who imported books on Christianity into the country.

Maldives Customs said sufficient evidence had been collected by police to connect the American, Kevin Thomas Greenson, with the Bangladeshi, Jathis Biswas, 44.

Jathis Biswas, who arrived in Maldives on 27 September 2012, has also been deported following accusations of spreading other religions in the Maldives.

Customs found 11 books on Christianity in the possession of Jathis Biswas when he entered the country.


Custom seize two men carrying books about Christianity

Customs officials at the Male’ Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) on Thursday seized 11 books about Christianity, typed in Dhivehi, from a Bangladeshi expatriate who came to the Maldives via Sri Lanka.

Speaking with the press last Thursday inside the Customs Building, Chief Customs Officer Ahmed Samah identified the Bangladeshi expat as Jathish Bisvas, 44.

Samah said the 44 year-old man had arrived to the Maldives on a  tourist visa and that it was the first time he visited Maldives.

According to Samah, customs officials were suspicious that the expat who had tried to bring the banned items into Maldives had links with a person in Male’. Samah said the Bangladeshi man had made a booking with a hotel in Male’ but did could not identify which hotel it was.

Samah said later the same day a Maldivian national was caught with similar books, after arriving to the Maldives from Sri Lanka.

The books he brought were not typed in Dhivehi, according to Samah.

Furthermore, Samah said it was highly possible that a Maldivian was behind the illegal smuggling operation given the quality of the Dhivehi language used to type the book. He also said it was a “very serious case if a Maldivian is behind this.”

He told the press that it was difficult to identify or provide further details about the suspected Maldivian man.

The pair have been handed over to police and customs and police are conducting a joint investigation into the case.

According to the Maldives Religious Unity Regulations, it is illegal in the Maldives to propagate any faith other than Islam or to engage in any effort to convert anyone to any religion other than Islam. It is also illegal to display in public any symbols or slogans belonging to any religion other than Islam, or creating interest in such articles.

It is also illegal in the Maldives to carry or display in public books on religions (other than Islam) and books and writings that promote and propagate other religions, and the translation into Dhivehi language such books and writings on other religions.

Violation of the Religious Unity Act is subject to two to five years in prison and fines up to MVR 20,000 (US$1300).