Maldives

Not Available

Immigration detainees

2019

Not Available

Detained children

2017

69,249

International migrants

2019

500,000

Population

2020

Overview

(March 2009) The Maldives, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, has experienced an uptick in the number of foreign workers in recent years, which has spurred a government crackdown on irregular migration. The country appears to have one dedicated migrant detention facility, located in the capital Malé. The centre, which is operated by the DIE’s Expatriate Monitoring Centre, has a reported capacity of 50. A 2009 report by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives claimed that many detainees are confined at the facility unconstitutionally because they are held for more than a month without court order.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

04 May 2020

Migrant Workers in Their Room in the Maldives, (Transparency Maldives, “Police Place Six Expatriate Accommodation Blocks Under Surveillance,” A. Shareef, The Edition, 23 April 2020, https://edition.mv/news/16336)
Migrant Workers in Their Room in the Maldives, (Transparency Maldives, “Police Place Six Expatriate Accommodation Blocks Under Surveillance,” A. Shareef, The Edition, 23 April 2020, https://edition.mv/news/16336)

The Maldives has more than 100,000 migrant workers—comprising almost 25 percent of the islands’ total population. A large number of these migrants are from Bangladesh, and many are undocumented. With numbers of migrants increasing in recent years, authorities have increasingly cracked down on irregular migration, opening a new dedicated detention centre in Hulhamale (outside Malé) in May 2019.

Although employers are legally obligated to provide health insurance, coverage is often minimal and employers are reported to regularly confiscate workers’ papers – making accessing care difficult. On 11 March, the government announced the opening of a dedicated Covid-19 clinic specifically for migrant workers in a preschool near Malé. According to the government’s Covid-19 spokesperson, migrants using the service are not required to show work permits or other forms of documentation.

With increasing numbers of migrants testing positive for Covid-19, living conditions have come under increased scrutiny. On 6 April, authorities announced plans to relocate some 1,500 migrant workers living in areas deemed as too congested. According to the Minister of Economic Development, in some areas more than 25, 30, or even 50 migrants share rooms. Reportedly, the state plans to temporarily move the individuals to housing units in Hulhumale and residences in Gulhifalhu, Kaafu Atol. On 27 April, the country’s Minister of Tourism stated, "Expatriates are also people who provide a service to Maldives, just as Maldivians do. Even under these circumstances, protecting and respecting humanity is the biggest priority for the state. Unless safety can be provided for everyone, neither Maldivians nor foreigners will be able to emerge from this pandemic.”

At the same time, six overcrowded accommodation blocks were placed under quarantine. With police surveillance in place, migrants have been prevented from entering or exiting. Simultaneously, authorities appear to have deported some undocumented Bangladeshi migrants. On 21 April, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that 68 persons had been returned to Bangladesh.

As of 30 April, more Bangladeshi migrants had tested positive for Covid-19 than Maldivian nationals.


Last updated: March 2009

Maldives Immigration Detention Profile

Located in the Indian Ocean, the Republic of Maldives is an archipelago that includes some 200 inhabited islands. The country has a population of nearly 400,000, more than a quarter of whom live in the capital Malé. The country held its first-ever democratic presidential election in 2008.

According to government authorities, as of 2009 Maldives was home to an estimated 80,000 legal foreign workers and more than 20,000 undocumented workers (Maldives Chronicle 2009). Most of the foreign-born population is comprised of Indians and Bangladeshis (Maldives Chronicle 2008).

The increasing number of foreign-born workers in the country has spurred a government crackdown in recent years. In January 2009, for example, the government issued a deadline for “illegal expatriates” to leave the country within two months or be prosecuted (Maldives Chronicle 2009).

In October 2007, the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DIE) proposed constructing a dedicated migrant detention centre “for the foreigners who violate their stay permit in Maldives especially expatriates. There is a concern for the increasing number of foreign workers who are working illegally in Maldives (DIE 2007).

Detention Policy

The 2007 Immigration Act stipulates rules for the detention and deportation of foreign nationals. According to Section 29 of the act, in cases where a foreign national does not qualify for an entry permit (as per Section 8 of the act), the Controller of Immigration and Emigration has “the power to detain the foreign national at a place where the Controller of Immigration and Emigration deems fit.” In addition, “The owner of the vessel in which the foreign national arrived, shall bear the expenses related to the foreign national’s detention and/or deportation as stipulated in this section.” Section 21 stipulates that in cases of foreign nationals whose permits have been revoked, “This Act does not prevent the Controller of Immigration and Emigration making arrangements for accommodation of a foreign national whom, pursuant to subsection (c), is unable to depart immediately from the Maldives, and is compelled to remain in the Maldives” (Immigration Act 2007).

Detention Infrastructure

As of March 2009, Maldives had one dedicated migrant detention facility, located in the capital. The centre, which is operated by the DIE’s Expatriate Monitoring Centre, has a reported capacity of 50 (HRCM 2009). A 2009 report by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives claimed that many detainees are confined at the facility unconstitutionally because they are held for more than a month without court order (Daily Mirror 2009).

References

ENFORCEMENT DATA

Total Detainees/ Stock & Flow (Year)
Not Available
2019
Total Entries/Flow (year)
0
Alternative Total Entries/Flow (year)
0
Average Daily Population (year)
0
Total Number of Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
Not Available
2017
Criminal Prison Population (Year)
1,880
2016
1,050
2013
994
2012
993
2008
1,387
2003
1,098
1996
Percentage of Foreign Prisoners (Year)
1.1
2004
Prison Population Rate (per 100,000 of National Population)
514
2016
320
2013
307
2012
322
2008
436
2003
414
1996

POPULATION DATA

Population (Year)
500,000
2020
364,000
2015
300,000
2012
International Migrants (Year)
69,249
2019
94,100
2015
84,200
2013
International Migrants as Percentage of Population (Year)
25.9
2015
8.3
2013
Refugees (Year)
31
2014

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS

Gross Domestic Product per Capita (in USD)
7,635
2014
6,666
2013
Remittances to the Country
3
2014
4
2011
Remittances From the Country
110
2010
Unemployment Rate
2014
Net Official Development Assistance (ODA) (in Millions USD)
24.8
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
104 (Medium)
2015
103 (Medium)
2014

B. Attitudes and Perceptions

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

GROUNDS FOR MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

LENGTH OF MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION INSTITUTIONS

Custodial Authorities
(Department of Immigration and Emigration)
2009
Detention Facility Management
Expatriate Monitoring centre of the Department of Immigration and Emigration (Governmental)
2009
Types of Detention Facilities Used in Practice
()
2015

PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS

DETENTION MONITORS

TRANSPARENCY

READMISSION/RETURN/EXTRADITION AGREEMENTS

COVID-19

COVID-19 DATA

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES

International Treaties Ratified
Ratification Year
Observation Date
OP CRC Communications Procedure
2019
2019
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
2016
2016
CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
2010
2010
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
2006
2006
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
2006
2006
OPCAT, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
2006
2006
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
2004
2004
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
1993
1993
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child
1991
1991
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
1991
1991
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
1984
1984
Treaty Reservations
Reservation Year
Observation Date
CRC Article 14 1991
1991
1991
Individual Complaints Procedures
Acceptance Year
Observation Date
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 2006
2006
2017
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2006
2006
2017
Ratio of Complaints Procedures Accepted
Observation Date
2/7
2017

NON-TREATY-BASED INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Relevant Recommendations from the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2011
2017
No 2015
2017

REGIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

Legal Tradition(s)
Muslim law
2017

DETENTION COSTS

OUTSOURCING

FOREIGN SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR DETENTION OPERATIONS