Maldives passes bill to criminalize human trafficking

Maldives - IOM commends the Government of the Maldives this week on passing a bill on anti-human trafficking, which makes trafficking in persons a criminal offence with perpetrators liable to 10 to 15 years imprisonment. The bill, which entered the Maldivian parliament – the People’s Majlis – in April 2013, also criminalizes offenses such as forced labour and fraudulent recruitment as acts of human trafficking.  IOM has been closely involved with counter trafficking activities in the Maldives over the past few years and will continue to support the government and non-government partners in areas of prevention, prosecution, and protection. 

The Maldives is a destination country for human trafficking, including sex trafficking and especially forced labour.  Government estimates suggest nearly a third of the Maldives’ population of 300,000 are migrant workers, of which up to 50,000 have irregular status.  These are mainly migrants from Bangladesh and India entering the construction and service sectors who, whether documented or undocumented, are left vulnerable to fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, non-payment of wages and debt bondage. The trafficking of Maldivian children within the country is also an issue.

The first piece of legislation that criminalizes human trafficking is a huge stepping stone to addressing numerous migration challenges in the Maldives. The island nation became a member state of IOM on August 5th 2011 and work on drafting a bill to combat human trafficking started in 2012 with support from the Australian Government. IOM has been working intently with other stakeholders to move the bill forward, whilst also providing protection and reintegration services to victims and conducting trainings with law enforcement officials, state prosecutors and the judiciary on the identification, investigation and prosecution of cases of trafficking.

IOM is committed to supporting the Maldives in ensuring the bill brings justice to victims of trafficking and continues to work on two on-going projects; a two-year project funded by the US Department of State to monitor and combat trafficking in persons and a one-year project funded by the IOM Development Fund (IDF) for capacity development in migration management.

For further information please contact

Alia Hirji
Counter Trafficking Programme Manager
IOM Maldives
Tel: +960 791 2649