Maldivian govt. announces plans for a shelter for human trafficking victims

Migrant workers wait for a bus to take them to the airport for repatriation. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

The Maldivian government has announced plans to establish a shelter for victims of human trafficking in the greater Male’ region.

In a statement on Thursday on occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the Maldivian government said it remained committed to effectively addressing the issue of human trafficking.

“Trafficking in Persons is a complex crime demanding a collective global response,” said the government in its statement. “Currently over 24 million people globally are victims of trafficking. They suffer extraordinary deprivations and violations of their rights and freedoms at the hands of criminals. No country or community is spared from this scourge.”

The government said that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing difficulties to addressing human trafficking.

“In addition to the health challenges it poses, the pandemic has caused much damage to countries’ socioeconomic structures, increasing the number of vulnerable people. This has provided human traffickers with more opportunities to exploit the marginalized,” reads the statement.

The Maldivian government said that despite the challenges, it remained committed to tackling human trafficking with reference to the five ‘P’s: Policy, Protection, Prosecution, Prevention, and Partnerships.

“For the first time since the inception of the Anti-Human Trafficking Act in the Maldives, the Government is devoting funds from the State Budget to the enforcement of its Anti-Human Trafficking agenda,” reads the statement.

The Maldivian government said it is setting up a designated office to coordinate all anti-human trafficking efforts in the country, and is also working on establishing a shelter for victims of human trafficking soon.

The government said the shelter will be located in the greater Male’ area and provided assurance it will give due consideration for female and child victims in establishing the shelter.

The government said that it continues to work with international partners to develop new policies for labor and migration while setting up social support services for victims of human trafficking.

The work is overseen by the National Anti-Trafficking Steering Committee.

Human trafficking is a key issue in Maldives, which hosts a migrant population roughly one-third of the size of the local population. Many migrant workers are forced to labor by employers who withhold their wages and confiscate their passports.