Transparency Maldives conducted its second Democracy Survey between May 20, and June 15, 2015. A benchmark Democracy Survey was conducted in the run up to the 2013 Presidential Elections.

As in 2013 survey, the 2015 nationwide random survey of the Maldivian public mostly used repeatedly tested questions. The results are reliable within a margin of error of ±2.95%.

Democracy surveys such as this one are widely conducted throughout the world. These surveys are grounded in the belief that successful democratisation requires a corresponding set of supporting democratic values, orientations, and attitudes.

The 2015 Democracy Survey data indicates positive developments in some general democratic values and orientations held by citizens. However, the data also indicates worrying continuities and developments in some other aspects.

Read the full report ‘A troubled future for Democracy: The results of the 2015 Maldives Democracy Survey’.

*Note that Figure 21 has been updated since the report was first published


The estimated official figure of the migrant population in Maldives, according to the latest census, is 58,683. The unofficial estimates are around 200,000 bringing the size of the migrant population in Maldives up to more than half of the country’s total population. Regardless of this figure, migrant workers have few rights and state redress mechanisms are not accessible to these workers, further victimizing those who are already being exploited in forced labor conditions. The language barrier and the lack of public interest litigators in the country further limit their access to justice.

A high number of migrant workers, especially those working as manual laborers, often sell all their assets to come to the Maldives and are reliant on their new employers for sustenance — for themselves and their families back at home. Often times, they face threats or even violence for speaking up about injustices. Their living quarters are generally provided by their employers, so if they are dismissed they also lose their shelter. The majority of cases that the Transparency Maldives’ Legal Advice Center receives from migrant workers include complaints of non-payment of wages, often for months, withholding of travel documents and identification, and inhumane living conditions.

Migrant workers live and work in unimaginable conditions, sometimes being forced to do work that is not permitted in their work permits. They are underpaid or unpaid, their passports and identification documents withheld by agents and employers, effectively crippling workers from rectifying their situation or reaching out to the justice system.

The Legal Advice Center provides free legal advice and assistance to expatriates and Maldivian citizens. Over the past three years, we have assisted over 560 migrant workers with cases of non-payment of wages, unacceptable working conditions, poor housing, withholding of their passport by employment agencies and employers, and being forced to do work that is not defined in their employment mandates.

These are not newly emerging issues and they closely reflect the findings reported in U.S Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report (2014). The report notes fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or non-payment of wages, or debt bondages as some of the forced labor situations faced by the migrant workers in Maldives.

While the necessary regulations such as Regulation on Expatriates Working in Maldives and Regulation on Bringing Expatriates to the Maldives for the purpose of Employment are in place, the issues arise from the lack of implementation, monitoring and enforcement of said regulations.

This exhibition is a platform provided by Transparency Maldives for local artists to showcase their thoughts and perceptions on the issues faced by migrant workers in the country. We hope that the exhibition will raise the public’s interest and awareness of the plight and conditions of migrant workers.

View/download the catalogue from the exhibition ‘OTHERS’.


An independent government created by the people and its governing structure is based on protecting its citizens’ freedoms and rights. Freedom of press, freedom of expression, access to education, shelter, transportation, clean environments etc. and other provisions of the second chapter of the constitution cannot be completed without the freedom of information.

Citizen participation is a fundamental aspect of a democracy. Citizens cannot participate in the governance of a democratic state without access to information. The constitution provides freedom of thought and speech, within the tenets of Islam, to its citizens. Thought and speech must be based on valid information, thus the right to access valid information is vital to uphold the constitutional right of thought and speech.

A clear majority of Maldivian citizens do not trust the government and its institutions. Similarly, a clear majority of the populace accuses these institutions and political figures of corruption. This trust can be gained through transparency and accessibility to valid information.

Read the position paper ‘Challenges to interpreting and implementing the RTI Act’.


As representatives working on behalf of their communities it is crucial to be informed of the policies being formulated in the area of climate change in the Maldives. As climate change affects vulnerable communities the most, it is important to get their voices heard at national and global policy making forums. It is important to advocate and lobby to bring about policies that would ensure communities who are facing the adverse effects of climate change are protected from its consequences. It is also important to ensure that the climate change programs being implemented in the country are the most needed in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Finally, it is vital to ensure that climate funds coming into the country is governed through a transparent framework with clear lines of accountability laid out.

View/download brochure on ‘The role of civil society in influencing climate policy’ in English and Dhivehi.


The Maldives, a poster child country for the global climate movement, is one of the most vulnerable countries to the ill effects of climate change. On average lying just 1.5 meters above mean sea level, the

Maldives is vulnerable to rising sea level and coastal flooding. In recent years the Maldives has received significant amount of funds, in the form of grants and loans from various international donors and organizations, to aid the country in its efforts to combat the negative effects of climate change.

Between 2011-2013 it is estimated that the Maldives spent USD 2.87 million from its national budget for various climate adaptation and mitigation activities. A further USD 168.17 million is committed for various adaptation and mitigation activities through externally funded grants and loans for the period 2011-2017.3

The large amount of funds coming into the country for climate change mitigation and adaptation poses questions on the governance mechanisms established to safeguard climate funds for its intended purpose. How effective are the anti corruption safeguards in the country in monitoring the use of climate funds? How inclusive and transparent is the decision making process of climate funds? How does the government approve and prioritize areas for climate change projects?

Through Transparency Maldives’ Climate Finance Integrity Program, it is hoped that these questions on transparency, accountability, integrity and inclusivity of climate funds would be addressed through advocacy and awareness-raising, and by engaging the public in the discourse.

Read TM’s position paper on Climate Finance Governance in Maldives in English and Dhivehi.


This review is undertaken with the aim to provide an update on major developments in climate finance governance in the Maldives since the publication of the assessment in 2013. With the change in government in November 2013 and the subsequent political reshuffling, significant changes have been observed in climate policies and the governance framework of climate finance. Through consultation with relevant stakeholders and review of developments in policies and legislation, the following is a brief overview of the changes observed in climate funders, policies, governance structure, procurement, coordination, implementation and monitoring. This review does not seek to alter the assessments, findings and recommendations of the 2013 assessment.

Read the full review An Assessment of Climate Finance Governance in Maldives: New Edition 2015


Transparency Maldives under the Parliament Accountability Project conducted in the hope of increasing public understanding of the Parliament’s role, function and practices, and, by extension, generate public demand for Parliament accountability and transparency, undertook a baseline research on floor crossing in the Maldives.

As an organization that focuses on good governance and the elimination of corruption in the Maldives, it is imperative that Transparency Maldives’ interventions focus on building public confidence in key representative institutions such as the Parliament. Floor crossing is an issue that is often discussed in the Maldives alongside speculation of corruption in the process of floor crossing. However, there is limited understanding of why and how floor crossing occurs, and how public perceives this.

Corruption, particularly grand corruption, is endemic in the Maldives but there is no evidence to suggest that with every party defection or floor crossing there is a flow of illicit enrichment behind it. However, considering the lack of transparency in asset disclosure by public officials in the Maldives, coupled with the public perception that corruption is high in the Parliament, it is important that best practices are adhered to, in order to ensure that floor crossing does not open a gateway for illicit enrichment and becomes a reason for public to lose trust in the Parliament.

Transparency Maldives undertook this research on the basis that understanding of public perception on floor crossing will provide insight into why the public lacks confidence in the Parliament. It is hoped that international best practices and case studies of defection laws and practice in other countries will broaden stakeholder understanding of floor crossing and provide a baseline to take the discussion forward.

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Baseline Research on Floor Crossing in the Maldives


Transparency Maldives under the Parliament Accountability Project conducted in the hope of increasing public understanding of the Parliament’s role, function and practices, and, by extension, generate public demand for Parliament accountability and transparency, undertook a baseline research on floor crossing in the Maldives.

As an organization that focuses on good governance and the elimination of corruption in the Maldives, it is imperative that Transparency Maldives’ interventions focus on building public confidence in key representative institutions such as the Parliament.

Floor crossing is an issue that is often discussed in the Maldives alongside speculation of corruption in the process of floor crossing. However, there is limited understanding of why and how floor crossing occurs, and how public perceives this.

Corruption, particularly grand corruption, is endemic in the Maldives but there is no evidence to suggest that with every party defection or floor crossing there is a flow of illicit enrichment behind it. However, considering the lack of transparency in asset disclosure by public officials in the Maldives, coupled with the public perception that corruption is high in the Parliament, it is important that best practices are adhered to, in order to ensure that floor crossing does not open a gateway for illicit enrichment and becomes a reason for public to lose trust in the Parliament.

Transparency Maldives undertook this research on the basis that understanding of public perception on floor crossing will provide insight into why the public lacks confidence in the Parliament. It is hoped that international best practices and case studies of defection laws and practice in other countries will broaden stakeholder understanding of floor crossing and provide a baseline to take the discussion forward.

View/download the Baseline Research on Floor Crossing the Maldives in English and Dhivehi

Download
Baseline Research on Floor Crossing in the Maldives


This position paper is submitted to the Maldivian Parliament by the Civil Society Organisations (CSO)-Parliament Dialogue Group, which was formed in December 2014 under the Parliament Accountability Project run by Transparency Maldives (TM) and funded by the British High Commission.

The aim of this position paper is to highlight the essential role civil society organisations (CSOs) play in the policy process, and bring to attention the importance of strengthening the interaction between civil society and the Parliament.

This paper contains two main sections. The first section gives a brief overview of the CSO-Parliament Dialogue Group, including its objectives and the challenges faced in its formulation.

The second section identifies problems in the parliamentary system that hinder the participation of CSOs in the policy process, and also lists key recommendations the Dialogue Group believes will help CSOs to fulfil their function as non-state actors representing public interests and concerns.

1. CSO-Parliament Dialogue GroupThe Dialogue Group, to date, consists of eight CSOs and three MPs:

  1. Transparency Maldives
  2. Islamic Foundation
  3. Hope For Women
  4. Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC)
  5. Maldives Association for Physical Disables (MAPD)
  6. Society for Health Education (SHE)
  7. Care Society
  8. Journey
  9. Ali Hussain (Kendhoo Constituency)
  10. Imthiyaz Fahmy (Maafannu Uthuru Constituency)
  11. Anaaraa Naeem (Makunudhoo Constituency)

The primary objective of the Dialogue Group is to provide CSOs and the Parliament with a platform to engage and collaborate together. Current reality in the Maldives is that civil society engagement with the Parliament is almost non-existent. This lack of engagement between CSOs and the Parliament is due to various reasons:

  • A lack of available platforms and mechanisms for both parties to engage in constructive discussion.
  • A lack of formalised space or established framework through which CSOs can effectively influence policy and provide subject-specific policy advice.
  • A lack of knowledge and capacity of CSOs to engage in the policy process.
  • A lack of political will to build a culture conducive to creating and nurturing a participatory civil society.
  • A lack of trust between civil society actors and MPs.

The Dialogue Group was formed to address these issues, and more importantly, to forge a collaborative partnership between civil society and the Parliament.

View/download the position paper in Dhivehi

Maldivian women are considered amongst the most emancipated in South Asia. The Maldives also ranks the second-highest on the United Nations Gender-related Development Index (GDI) in the South Asia region. Despite the apparent progress made in the advancement of women, gender discrimination exists in the realm of public service and politics, and platforms for women to participate in the decision-making processes at both the national level and community level are limited. The very few platforms that do exist to promote women’s participation, such as Women’s Development Committees (WDC), are constrained by a general lack of understanding of the institutional support that is required for such Committees to operate to their full potential.

Transparency Maldives (TM) implemented program, under its Civic Participation Project (CPP), to increase women’s participation at the local level focusing on Women’s Development Committees (WDCs). Despite the fact that WDCs have existed as a platform for women going back as far as 1982, there is still limited understanding of how and why WDCs operate. Existing literature on WDCs provide limited information on the aspirations and motivations of WDC members, the barriers they face, public perception of WDCs, and their relationship with Island Councils. This study was conceived on the notion that interventions designed to strengthen WDCs should be based on the experience and realities of WDCs that operate in the field. Based on this premise, TM set out to undertake an assessment of WDCs in order to gain insight into them, identify challenges and capacity issues and propose recommendations for capacity building of WDCs. This assessment report is divided into five sections: Section two explains the methodology used while section three provides an overview of the historical development of WDCs as well the participation of women in decision-making in Maldivian society. Section four provides details of the findings of the survey and focus group discussions. Based on the findings of the assessment, the final section provides recommendations for various stakeholder groups.

Download
Assessment of Women’s Development Committees in the Maldives


We are pleased to announce that the Transparency Maldives publication ‘Assessment of Women’s Development Committees in the Maldives’ is being launched today to mark the International Women’s Day.

Women’s Development Committees (WDC) are a traditional women’s institution in the Maldives, and are an important platform for women to enter into politics and participate in the decision making process of island development. Despite the fact that WDCs are unable to operate as mandated in the Decentralisation Act, it is paramount that WDCs continue to exist and adequate support mechanisms are developed to steer WDCs to fulfil their mandate.

TM’s Assessment of Women’s Development Committees in the Maldives indicates that financial and resource constraints, poor working relationships with the Island Councils and negative public perception towards women in public life are the main challenges faced by Women’s Development Committees (WDCs) across the Maldives.

The following is a list of recommendations based on our research findings:

  1. Councils must consult WDCs as stipulated in the Decentralisation Act
  2. Clarify the role of regulatory bodies and support structures in relation to WDCs
  3. Build the capacity of WDCs to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills
  4. Island Councils should develop resource sharing mechanisms to support WDCs
  5. Provide financial support for WDCs and secure additional sources of funding
  6. Men should be able to contest in and vote for WDC elections

The recommendations identified in the Assessment intend to provide a basis for the development of strategic actions that promote the role, participation and representation of women in public life. It is hoped that the findings from this assessment provide further impetus for the relevant authorities to establish better coordination amongst stakeholders to meet the needs of WDCs and to implement effective capacity building initiatives.

ENDS

View/download the Assessment of Women’s Development Committees in the Maldives


Between 2013 and 2014, Transparency Maldives (TM) implemented a programme to promote democracy and by extension, support the strengthening of local governance through increased civic participation and capacity building of local councils. As part of the programme, TM conducted civic education workshops and civic forums in 16 islands, with the purpose of bridging the gap between local councils and the communities they serve. The objective was to create citizen awareness and knowledge on democratic values, norms and practices and inspire citizens to participate in community affairs. In addition, the project activities sought to create space for local councils and communities to interact and promote dialogue in addressing community issues through a participatory approach; and to promote transparency and accountability of local councils.

The purpose of this report is to capture TM’s experiences and the process that was followed in achieving the above mentioned goals. The intention is that the experiences, reflection and guidelines will provide practitioners and stakeholders with a useful insight into how community consultations can be conducted in a Maldivian context; and with the tools to design and implement future interventions to strengthen local governance in the Maldives. The first part of the report provides an overview of the local government system in the Maldives including its historical context and the legislative framework. The second part provides explanations and details of civic forums, TM’s experience and case studies. The final part provides details of citizen perceptions on community engagement, followed by a conclusion.

View/download the full report ‘Civic forum: A path to community engagement’ in English and Dhivehi

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Civic forum: A path to community engagement
Civic forum: A path to community engagement