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

Transparency Maldives appreciates the acknowledgement of integrity as a fundamental premise to a healthy society and, is honoured to have received the 2015 National Integrity Award under the civil society category, from the Anti-Corruption Commission. Transparency Maldives also congratulates the Anti-Corruption Commission for their effort to mark and celebrate 21 April 2015 as the first national anti-corruption day.

While Transparency Maldives appreciates the efforts to acknowledge our core values and community services, we reiterate that upholding the integrity of independent institutions is an integral mandate of high ranking public posts in these independent institutions. As such, we call upon the Heads of independent institutions to refrain from accepting arbitrary gratuities from the Government.

We urge independent institutions to safeguard from undue influence and allegations of bribery and corruption in order to uphold the value of integrity and increase public confidence in independent institutions.

ENDS.

For media queries, please contact Legal Assistant, Ibrahim Riza (967 6060).

View/download in Dhivehi and English.




Democracy Camps 2015

First Camp: 06 June 2015 – 12th June 2015

Second Camp: 29th August 2015 – 4th September 2015

The deadline for applications for both camps is 10th May 2015, 4:00 pm.

View/download the Call for Applications in English and Dhivehi
View/download the Application Form in English and Dhivehi 

1. 
Introduction
Transparency Maldives in partnership with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is conducting a Democracy Camp from 6th to 12th June 2015, and 29th August – 03rd September 2015. The 6-day camps 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

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
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 both camps is 10th May 2015, 4:00 pm.

4. Contact Us
Project Coordinator
Shifza Omar
Tel no: 300 4017
Email: application@transparencymaldives.org
Website: www.transparency.mv


Transparency Maldives (TM) notes with concern the recent allotment of flats to public officials holding high-ranking state positions.

The flats from the recently built luxury Rehendhi Residency have been contracted, below market rate, to public officials holding high-ranking positions  including chairs of selected independent oversight bodies and judges.

The State can provide privileges to state officials based on need and limited to the duration of employment of individuals, and as specified in the Constitution and law. However, it is concerning that these flats are to be permanently contracted by the Executive to public officials holding time-bound positions of the state. The offering of arbitrary privileges to public officials holding high-ranking positions and the acceptance of such privileges, will undermine public trust in these institutions.

TM also notes that upholding integrity in the performance of high-ranking public posts is an integral and core mandate of such positions and should not be incentivized through handouts of property or other forms of personal enrichment. Gratuities given to state officials by the Government can be perceived as a move by the Executive to assert undue influence over other branches of the state and independent state institutions.

TM calls on the Executive to refrain from arbitrarily providing any form of gratuities and privileges to state officials and in the process unduly influencing other branches of the state and independent state institutions.

ENDS

For media queries, please contact Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre Coordinator, Ahid Rasheed (974 1443)

View/download the statement in Dhivehi and English.


Transparency Maldives (TM) notes with grave concern the sentencing of former President Mohamed Nasheed to 13 years in prison on charges of terrorism, despite a number of irregularities in the legal process, under which the trial took place.

TM notes with concern that despite calls for fair legal process, President Nasheed was denied legal representation, denied right to appeal, his legal team denied adequate time to build a defence against the new charges of terrorism, President Nasheed’s defence witnesses were refused, and serious issues of conflict of interest were prevalent in the case. Conflict of interest issues we note include two of the three judges presiding over the trial having acted as witnesses for the prosecution and the Prosecutor General who levied the new terrorism charges against President Nasheed having acted as a prosecution witness for the previous charge against President Nasheed. These procedural irregularities raise serious questions about the fairness, transparency and independence of the judicial process followed and the provision of the accused’s inalienable right to a fair trial.

TM calls on state actors to accord President Nasheed with full legal rights in the appeal process including adequate time and access; and calls on the state to address increasing concerns regarding the fairness and independence of the justice system in the Maldives.

Furthermore, TM calls on all state actors to uphold democratic principles and international conventions the Maldives is party to; and calls on the public and law enforcement agencies to exercise restraint and calm in order to mitigate further deterioration of the security situation in the Maldives.

ENDS


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


PRESS STATEMENT

Male’ — February 25, 2015 — Transparency Maldives (TM) notes with concern the escalating political tensions in the Maldives, especially following the recent arrests of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim. TM appeals to all actors to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution at all times, and engage in dialogue to resolve political disputes.

TM calls on the state and government institutions to ensure that the ongoing cases against former President Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim are carried out under fair and transparent legal proceedings, free from politicisation and in accordance with the principles of justice. We particularly note with concern that President Nasheed was denied right to legal representation during the court hearing on 23 February 2015.
Furthermore, TM calls on all state actors to follow due process entitled to all Maldivian citizens and to uphold democratic principles at all times in resolving political disputes. TM fears that if the rising political tensions are not resolved peacefully and within the constitutional remit, the political situation of the country may deteriorate further.

ENDS

For media queries, please contact Legal Assistant, Ibrahim Riza on +960 967 6060 or ibrahim.riza@transparencymaldives.org.

View/download the press statement in English and Dhivehi