The Maldives relies heavily on a migrant labour force, many of whom are undocumented. Estimates vary widely, from 145,000 to over 230,000 migrant workers present in the country. According to an April 2020 UN report on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the Maldives, the country has the largest proportion of migrant workers in South […]
04 May 2020 – Maldives
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) […]
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).
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).
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).
- Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 2009. "Sri Lankans Among Detainees Held Unconstitutionally--Maldives HRC.” 9 March 2009.
- Department of Immigration and Emigration (DIE). 2007. Press release. “Proposing of a Detention Center for Foreigners.” 21 October 2007.http://www.immigration.gov.mv/index.php/news/74-proposing-of-a-detention-center-for-foreigners-21st-october-2007.html (accessed10 March 2009).
- Evening News (Maldives). 2009. “Immigration: 338 Foreigners Deported Last Year.” 13 January 2009.
- Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM). 2009. Press Release. "HRCM Releases Report of Malé Detention Centre." 8 March 2009. (http://www.hrcm.org.mv/news/HRCMReleasesReportonMaleImmigrationDetentionCenter.aspx)
- Maldives Immigration Act. 2007.http://www.immigration.gov.mv/images/info/The_Maldives_Immigration_Act.pdf (accessed 12 March 2009).
- Maldives Chronicle. 2009. “Government Sets Deadline for Illegal Expats to Leave Country.” 30 January 2009.
- Maldives Chronicle. 2008. “Imported Workers Exceed 77,000.” 2 September 2008.
- U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Website. “World Factbook: Maldives.” Last updated 5 March 2009. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mv.html (accessed 12 March 2009).
ALTERNATIVES TO DETENTION
ADDITIONAL ENFORCEMENT DATA
SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS
LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
GROUNDS FOR MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION
LENGTH OF MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION
MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION INSTITUTIONS
PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS
> National human rights monitoring bodies
> National Preventive Mechanisms (Optional Protocol to UN Convetion against Torture)
> Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
> Governmental monitoring bodies
> International detention monitoring
Have Populations of Concern Been Included/Excluded From the National Vaccination Campaign?
International Treaties Ratified
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Relevant Recommendations Issued by Treaty Bodies
NON-TREATY-BASED INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS
REGIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS
FOREIGN SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR DETENTION OPERATIONS
Department of Emigration and Immigration, http://www.immigration.gov.mv/
Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, http://www.hrcm.org.mv/
International Labour Organization: Office in Sri Lanka, http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/asro/colombo/index.htm
UNHCR Maldives Country Information, http://www.unhcr.org/maldives.html
NGO & Research Institutions
Asia Human Rights Commission, http://www.ahrchk.net
Asia Pacific Forum, http://www.asiapacificforum.net/
Maldives Independent, http://maldivesindependent.com/