Maldives

No Data

Immigration detainees

No Data

Detained children

Overview

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

Related Reading

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

IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION-RELATED STATISTICS

Criminal prison population
1,880
2016
1,050
2013
994
2012
993
2008
1,387
2003
1,098
1996
Percentage of foreign prisoners
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
364,000
2015
300,000
2012
International migrants
94,100
2015
84,200
2013
International migrants as a percentage of the population
25.9
2015
8.3
2013
Refugees
31
2014
Total number of immigration detainees by year
Number of immigration detainees on a given day
Top nationalities of detainees
Number of persons granted alternatives to immigration detention
Number of detained asylum seekers
Total number of detained minors
Number of detained unaccompanied minors
Number of detained accompanied minors
Number of detained stateless persons
Number of apprehensions of non-citizens
Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
Estimated total immigration detention capacity
Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
Number of immigration offices
Number of transit facilities
Number of criminal facilities
Number of ad hoc facilities
Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)
Number of deportations/forced returns only
Percentage of persons removed in relation to total number of people placed in removal procedures
Estimated number of undocumented migrants
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
Total number of new asylum applications
Refugee recognition rate
Stateless persons

SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

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
Unemployment rate amongst migrants
Detention for deterrence
Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
Immigration Index Score
World Bank Rule of Law Index
Domestic Opinion Polls on Immigration

DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES

Legal tradition
Muslim law
2017
Constitutional guarantees?
Core pieces of national legislation
Additional legislation
Regulations, standards, guidelines
Immigration-status-related grounds
Non-immigration-status-related grounds providing for administrative detention in immigration legislation.
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations?
Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law.
Longest recorded instance of immigration detention.
Maximum length of time in custody prior to issuance of a detention order
Average length of detention
Maximum length of detention for asylum-seekers
Maximum length of detention for persons detained upon arrival at ports of entry
Provision of basic procedural standards
Types of non-custodial measures
Impact of alternatives
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Mandatory detention
Expedited/fast track removal
Re-entry ban

INTERNATIONAL LAW

International treaty reservations
Reservation Year
Observation Date
CRC Article 14 1991
1991
1991
Individual complaints procedure
Acceptance Year
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 2006
2006
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2006
2006
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
Observation Date
2/7
2017
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2011
2017
No 2015
2017
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Treaty bodies decisions on individual complaints
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Regional legal instruments
Regional treaty reservations
Regional judicial decisions on individual complaints
Recommendations issued by regional human rights mechanisms
Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures

INSTITUTIONAL INDICATORS

Custodial authority
(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
Federal or centralized governing system
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority
Apprehending authorities
Formally designated detention estate?
Authorized monitoring institutions
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent?
Does NHRI carry out visits?
Does NHRI have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NHRI publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Does national preventive mechanism (NPM) carry out visits?
Does NPM have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NPM publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Do NGOs carry out visits?
NGO capacity to receive complaints?
Do NGOs publish reports on immigration detention?
Do parliamentary organs carry out visits?
Do parliamentary organs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do parliamentary organs publicly report on their detention findings?
Do internal inspection agencies (IIAs) carry out visits?
Do IIAs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do IIAs publicly report their findings from detention inspections?
Do international and/or regional bodies (IRBs) visit immigration-related detention facilities?
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections?
Types of privatisation/outsourcing
Detention contractors and other non-state entities
Estimated annual budget for detention operations
Estimated annual budgets for particular detention-related activities
Estimated cost per detainees day (in USD)
Estimated annual budget for non-custodial measures (in USD)
Estimated costs of non-custodial measures (in USD)
Does the country receive external sources of funding?
Description of foreign assistance