As we mark International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December 2015, Transparency Maldives calls on the government to make strong commitments to fight corruption and to ensure political integrity in the Maldives.

Corruption is the biggest problem facing the Maldives today. The results of the 2015 Maldives Democracy Survey shows that 72% of the public believes that corruption has increased in the past year. Corruption continues to undermine development by promoting wastage, has eroded public confidence in key institutions and victimise vulnerable communities in Maldivian society.

With public confidence in the parliament, judiciary, executive and oversight bodies at an all time low, it is paramount that basic anti-corruption measures are obliged and enforced in order to restore public confidence in state institutions.

Transparency Maldives calls on the State to ensure the following.

1- As a measure to tackle illicit enrichment, enforce a credible asset declaration regime, with high-ranking officials in the executive, judiciary and legislature having to publicly declare their assets.

2- Create a safe environment for dissent to ensure that watchdogs, independent state institutions, opposition political parties, media and NGOs have the space to operate free from fear of persecution. In a healthy democracy these groups hold the state in check. In addition, citizens need to enjoy basic civil and political liberties to hold those that govern them accountable.

3- Corruption in the judiciary creates a cycle of crime, undermines access to justice and deprives victims of their right to a fair trial. The judicial sector of the Maldives need to undertake extraordinary measures to restore public confidence by adhering to international best practice and enforcement of anti-corruption measures.

4- The parliament of the Maldives is perceived as the most corrupt institution in the country according to the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer Survey. Allegations of vote buying within the parliament and illicit enrichment of MPs is widespread. Furthermore, there is limited public consultation in the law making process with the parliament increasingly becoming a vehicle to fast-track questionable laws and removal of public officials without due process.

We call on the parliament to work in the interest of the public by holding state institutions accountable and ensure greater transparency and inclusivity in the law making process. We call on relevant state institutions including the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Auditor General’s Office and the Prosecutor General’s Office to address the widespread allegations of corruption in the parliament.

Extraordinary measures need to be undertaken to tackle the scale of grand corruption in the Maldives. The level of impunity enjoyed by the powerful and the corrupt  in the Maldives, allows them to escape justice, undermines the rule of law and obstructs development. To win the fight against corruption, we need to create a culture of integrity and zero tolerance towards corruption.

ENDS.

View/download the statement in English.

Criminalising the offence of illicit enrichment is a matter or urgency in the Maldives. Several studies and surveys undertaken by Transparency Maldives to assess the public perception of corruption in the Maldives indicate the prevalence of grand corruption by officials at the upper echelons of the state. The Global Corruption Barometer Survey undertaken in 2013 indicate that while 97 percent of respondents believe that corruption is a problem at the public sector, the Parliament – followed closely by political parties and the judiciary – is perceived to be the most corrupt institution in the country. This finding corroborates with the Democracy Survey conducted in 2013, which found that representative institutions such as the Parliament are where the public have the least confidence. Allegations and speculations of corruption in the public sphere is common, particularly with regards to illicit enrichment in parliamentary floor crossing and Cabinet Ministers’ sudden increase in significant wealth.
View/download the position paper ‘Criminalising illicit enrichment to curb grand corruption in English and Dhivehi.


Youth constitutes a high percentage of the population of Maldives. Recent governments have increasingly been targeting their policies and programmes on the development of young people. Youth features heavily on the present Government’s manifesto as well,with a specific chapter devoted to youth, as well as youth considerations included in chapters related to other areas. However,  as with most other facilities and services in the country, entrenched and systemic illegal and corrupt practices impede equal access to these opportunities for young people.

The objective of this assessment was to undertake a situational analysis focusing on youth as victims of corruption, and areas where young people become victims of corruption, specifically focusing on the areas, of higher education, housing, employment, health services, and leadership and civic engagement. Key policy personnel from the sectors related to the assessment and youth groups were interviewed, as well as young people from across the country.

View/download ‘Youth, opportunities and corruption in the Maldives: A situational analysis’


Transparency International and its chapter Transparency Maldives express their deep concern for the worrying developments in the Maldives in the run up to and following the 30-day state of emergency declared by the Government of Maldives on 4 November 2015.

Over the past year the human rights situation in the country has been deteriorating with new laws, regulations and practices which continue to severely undermine civil and political liberties of the citizens of the Maldives.

The state of emergency and the consequent restrictions on constitutionally protected rights is deeply concerning as it is not only unprecedented, but is also declared ahead of a mass anti-government protest planned for 6 November.

Whilst the Foreign Minister, Dunya Maumoon declared that the emergency decree is a ‘pre-emptive and precautionary action in light of several security threats’ and that ‘the Maldives is safe for international visitors’, it is highly questionable how the current situation is legal and can be used to justify curtailing fundamental freedoms and liberties of an entire citizenry.
We also note that the state of emergency is declared ahead of the no confidence motion against Vice President, Ahmed Adeeb, accused of plotting the assassination attempt of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. The emergency decree reduces the period provided under Article 100 of the Maldives Constitution for the vice president to respond to the impeachment charges from 14 days to 7 days, indicating the arbitrary and politically motivated nature of this decision.
Worryingly, this emergency decree allows further attack on dissent in the Maldives and severely limits civic space. We also note that these restrictions come on top of recent legislative changes that severely restricts free speech and civic space under the newly enacted Anti-Terrorism Act (28 October) and NGO regulation (1 October).  The Anti-Terror Act and the new NGO regulation allows the government to exert complete control over civic groups and eliminate dissent.

Media in the Maldives continue to operate in an environment of fear and intimidation. On 3 October, three journalists from Raaje TV station were reportedly assaulted by the police. We urge the Maldives Police Service and other relevant authorities to conduct a credible, independent investigation into the incident to ascertain if any wrongdoing took place.

Serious allegations of corruption against top officials of the state including security forces and public companies have surfaced in the midst of the crisis that unfolded following the explosion on the Presidential speedboat. We call upon the concerned authorities to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation into these allegations, so that confidence in the security forces and public institutions could be restored.

We urge independent oversight mechanisms of the state to remain vigilant and monitor the situation carefully in order to ensure that no individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms are unduly restricted or violated and to ensure that the emergency decree does not become a cloak to provide impunity for rights abuse.

We call on the Parliament, in their review of the State of Emergency, to ascertain that the government authorities have provided sufficient and justifiable cause to declare a 30-day state of emergency with severe limitations on freedoms.

We also note that principles of fair trial should be maintained at all times and due process is owed to all individuals regardless of political post, belief or affiliation.

ENDS

For media queries, please call press contact(s):

Berlin
Chris Sanders
T: +49 30 343820 666

E: press@transparency.org

Malé
Thoriq Hamid
Transparency Maldives
T: +960 330 4017
M: +960 7999268

E: thoriq.hamid@transparencymaldives.org

View/download the press statement https://goo.gl/M0GT3I


A nationwide survey published by Transparency Maldives points to a continuing crisis of public confidence in key state institutions. Citizens are cynical about politics. They are also dissatisfied with the prevailing political and social order. The survey report, titled, A Troubled Future for Democracy, however, shows that a majority of Maldivians support democracy.

“The survey shows that citizens are less likely to meaningfully participate in public matters and protect democratic institutions as they have no faith in them.  If so, it should not be surprising to see democratic declines and increase in impunity and corruption,” Mariyam Shiuna, Executive Director of Transparency Maldives said.

Crisis of confidence in key institutions

Most citizens lack confidence in key state institutions including the parliament and the courts.  Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents say they have no confidence at all in the parliament. This is, however, an improvement of five percentage points compared to 2013.

Courts saw a drop of confidence level by five percentage points, compared to 2013. Over a majority (51%) of Maldivians now say they have no confidence at all in courts compared to 46% in 2013.

Strikingly, there was a major decrease of confidence level in the Elections Commission, with a drop of 17 percentage points compared to 2013. A majority (56%) still have confidence in the the Elections Commission.

Political parties saw an improvement of nine percentage points, although almost half (49%) still have no confidence at all in them.

The report argued that if public lack confidence in institutions, citizens are unlikely to defend those institutions and institutions are unlikely to be effective links between citizens and the state.

Cynical, critical and dissatisfied citizens

Maldivians continue to be highly cynical of politics. Seventy-one percent of Maldivians say that the government does not care about ordinary people and 94% of Maldivians believe that politicians are “ready to lie to get elected”.

Citizens continue to be critical of the social order: 80% think that power is concentrated in the hands of too few people. The good news is that 97% of the public believe dialogue is the way to solve the country’s problem. The bad news is that 1 in 3 think that violence is sometimes a necessary response to injustice.

Only 32% of Maldivians say that the country is headed in the “right direction”. While 59% of the population believe that Maldives is a democracy, only 45% of them are satisfied with the way democracy works in the Maldives. Seventy-two percent of Maldivians believe that level of corruption in the country has increased over the past year.

While membership in political parties is high among Maldivians, only 22% of Maldivians believe that parties serve the interest of the Maldivian people.

Support for democracy and gender equality

The most significant positive developments since 2013 concern citizens’ support for democracy. Most Maldivians prefer democracy as a form of government. A solid majority of 63% people believe that despite its problems democracy is still the best system compared to 59% in 2013. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents also think a democratic form of government is good for the country.

Such a straightforward positive conclusion is hard to be made about attitudes towards gender equality. Fifty-four percent of Maldivians now agree with the statement that men make better leaders than women, compared to 61% who agreed with the statement, indicating that despite the slight improvement support for gender equality is still worryingly low.

However, Maldivians are supportive of women being in some leadership positions. Eighty-four percent of respondents support women being elected to the parliament and 79% of Maldivians support the idea of women working as cabinet ministers. Unfortunately these trends do not hold for the position of a judge, the Vice President of the country or the President of the Country. Only 39% of Maldivians support a woman being elected as the President of the country.

A troubled future for democracy

“Democratic institutions and politicians must take extraordinary measures to regain public trust. Citizens, in their part, must step up to hold public officials to account,” said Shiuna.

“Political parties play a crucial role in democracies as they organise politics for citizens. The survey clearly shows the need for parties to reconnect with the people to achieve genuine democratic reforms,” she added.
The report concludes that unless these challenges are addressed, democracy has a “troubled future” in the Maldives.

ENDS

Please see these links for a PDF of the statements in English and Dhivehi.


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’.


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


Democracy Camp 2
29th August 2015 – 4th September 2015
View/download the Call for Applications in English and Dhivehi
View/download the Application Form in English and Dhivehi

Transparency Maldives in partnership with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is conducting Democracy Camp 2 from 29th August – 04th September 2015. The 6-day camp will be held at a Kaafu Girifushi.

The primary goal of the camp is to enhance the participants’ knowledge on civic education, rights and responsibilities of a citizen, democracy, human rights and various social issues. The camp will aim to provide participants with the knowledge and tools to actively engage in community initiatives and encourage responsible citizenship and civic engagement.

The main content of the training would include (but will not be limited to):

– Democratic principles
– Human Rights
– Civic participation and engagement
– Tolerance, ethics and learning to live together
– Leadership and life skills

1. About organizers
Transparency Maldives
Transparency Maldives is a non–partisan organization that promotes good governance and advocates to eliminate corruption from the daily lives of the Maldivian people. Transparency Maldives engages in a wide range of activities to incorporate and advocate for good governance, stop corruption and to promote democracy and civic participation at the local and national level. Transparency Maldives seeks to engage with stakeholders from all sectors (government, business, politics, civil society, media, among others) to raise awareness on corruption’s detrimental effects on development and society.

IFES
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is an international, nonprofit organization that supports citizens’ right to participate in free and fair elections by providing technical assistance to election officials; empowering the underrepresented to participate in the political process; and applying field-based research to improve the electoral cycle. Since 1987, IFES has developed and implemented comprehensive, collaborative democracy solutions in more than 135 countries. IFES is implementing a program to provide civic education for young people, promote women’s political participation and promote the integrity of electoral and political processes through electoral reform.

2. Overall Objectives
− Increase knowledge of human rights, democratic principles and civic participation amongst young people.
− Promote youth leadership, civic engagement, and participation in public life by providing youth with the skills to take initiative and engage in issues important to them.

 3. Application
Interested applicants between 14-16 years of age are invited to submit a completed application form, copies of recent academic certificates/report cards and copy of ID card to the following:

Email: application@transparencymaldives.org

Post Address:

Transparency Maldives
MF Building, 07th Floor
Chaandhanee Magu, Male’
Fax: 300, 6062

The deadline for applications for the camp is 15th August 2015, 4:00 pm.

4.Contact Us
Project Coordinator
Shifza Omar
Tel no: 330 4017
Email: application@transparencymaldives.org
Website: www.transparency.mv


To President, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Parliament, Members of constitutional bodies, Members of institutions, and officials of state-owned enterprises:

We write this petition to request you to declare and publicly disclose your assets in order to enhance transparency and integrity of public officials, and to increase public trust in the state and oversight bodies. We believe asset declarations are crucial in ensuring that personal interests of public officials do not conflict with their duties and responsibilities. Asset declarations also help to identify cases of illicit enrichment, so that a public official may legitimately be held accountable. Therefore, we call on you to declare your assets in accordance with the law, and to disclose your assets by publishing on the website of your respective offices.

Call on your public officials to declare and disclose their assets to the public, sign the petition!

Why this is important

Asset declaration requires a certain category of public officials––also identified as “politically exposed persons” to describe individuals entrusted with prominent public functions––to disclose their financial and business interests. The principle goal of asset declaration is to combat corruption––in particular, illicit enrichment––and promote transparency and accountability of the governance system.

The Maldivian Constitution requires the President, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Parliament, and Judges to annually submit their financial and business interests. Members of constitutional bodies such as the Anti-Corruption Commission, Judicial Service Commission and Elections Commission are also required to submit their asset declaration documents. However, there is no legal provision for the following officials to submit their declarations:

  • Vice President
  • Auditor General
  • Information Commissioner
  • Members of other constitutional bodies such as Human Rights Commission of the Maldives and Civil Service Commission
  • Members of institutions such as Maldives Media Council, Maldives Broadcasting Commission, Police Integrity Commission, and Customs Integrity Commission
  • Officials of state-owned enterprises

While this is one key weakness of the current asset declaration regime, other key weaknesses include lack of accountability and lack of transparency.

Despite the constitutional provisions that mandate some public officials to declare their assets, there are no punitive measures legally prescribed to those who violate this provision. This lack of accountability puts these public officials above the law and encourages a culture of impunity to thrive unchecked. While some officials submit the documents regularly, others do not submit at all, thus rendering the system ineffective.

Furthermore, the main objective of asset declaration is to enhance transparency and integrity of public officials and restore the trust of citizens in the government and oversight bodies. The fulfilment of this objective, however, is currently impossible since the declared information is not made available to the public. Public disclosure gives the media, civil society groups, and the wider public an increased role in holding public officials to account.



Photo: Munshid Mohamed

Transparency Maldives notes with concern the amendments to the Employment Act passed by the Parliament that excludes migrant workers from Ramadan bonus.

The amendment constitutes as discrimination on the basis of nationality and is in clear violation of the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions and the rights enunciated by the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights (UDHR) to which Maldives is a signatory to.

All workers deserves the same level of amenities and employment benefits regardless of which country they are from.

View/download the letter Transparency Maldives sent to the Speaker of the People’s Majlis regarding the amendments to the Employment Act.


Transparency Maldives (TM), in its submission to the UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR), notes with concern the declining human rights situation in the Maldives and calls on the State to immediately initiate reforms to prevent further deterioration and commit to a path that is in line with the Maldives’ international obligations.

In its 2014 submission, TM noted a marked decline in civil and political rights protection, resulting in the constriction of democratic space afforded to civil society. There exist significant threats to freedom of association, expression and media during the review period as the State has become increasingly intolerant of dissent. Of note are the attacks to parliamentarians, journalists, and media outlets, resulting in the murder of a parliamentarian and the maiming of another, as well as the deadly attacks on journalists and the disappearance of one journalist, and arson and other attacks to media houses. The 2013 Presidential elections further underlined the delicate and unpredictable nature of the right to participate in public affairs and democratic government, where interference in electoral processes by State institutions led to multiple delays of scheduled elections and annulment of elections, which were widely reported as free and fair.

Additionally, TM also notes the Maldives’ Human Rights Commission are currently on trial via a Suo Motu case initiated by the Supreme Court, as a result of critical comments on the state of the country’s judiciary in its submission to the 2014 UPR.

To prevent further deterioration of the HR situation, TM calls on the State to: 1. Cease intimidation of civil society and State independent institutions; 2. Put in place mechanisms to protect freedom of association and ensure protection of journalists and media houses; 3. Address legal discrepancies and inconsistencies due to the Supreme Court annulment of Presidential Election 2013, which could in the future, hamper electoral processes; 4. Address the governance and human rights issues faced by migrant workers by ratifying ICRMW, including all ILO conventions; and 5. Implement recommendations put forth by the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

Since the initial recommendations from the 2010 UPR, the Maldives has taken positive steps to improve the human rights situation on the ground in some areas. It has made positive changes to key legislation such as the passing of the Anti-human Trafficking Act and Right to Information Act.

Despite commitments for reform following the 2010 UPR process, we observe that key institutional failures have stifled democratic consolidation and the Government has failed to fully implement many accepted recommendations. This has resulted in the Maldives lagging behind in adherence to international human rights standards.

TM hopes that its submission proves useful to the Maldives in implementing and reviewing recommendations, and also to UN member states, international and domestic organisations working to protect and promote human rights in the country. TM looks forward to constructively engaging with the Maldivian Government and civil society partners in the implementation of recommendations from the second cycle.

TM’s first engagement with the UPR was in 2010, with a joint civil society submission to the Maldives review. The UPR is a UN lead mechanism that takes place every four years to review the human rights situation of all UN member countries. This is the second cycle of review for Maldives and will take place on 6 May 2015 at the 22nd session of the UPR Working Group.

ENDS

Note: TM’s full UPR submission can be viewed here.
Summary of TM’s report can be viewed here.
Background information on the UPR can be viewed here.
Maldives’ national report to the UPR can be viewed here.

View/download this press release in English and Dhivehi