Home Minister: Nearly 100 expats arrested for prostitution in four years

Home Minister Imran Abdulla responds to questions at the Parliament on February 15, 2023. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Maldivian police have arrested nearly 100 migrant workers in operations targeting prostitution rings over the last four years, according to Home Minister Imran Abdulla.

Imran made the statement in response to questions by Central Maafannu MP Ibrahim Rasheed regarding the action taken by the government in response to the issue of undocumented migrant workers on Wednesday morning.

Imran responded that the authorities have taken action to stop both locals and migrants involved in violation of community standards and crimes.

He said that the police have not, however, initiated operations targeting undocumented workers as it falls within the purview of the Economic Ministry and Maldives Immigration Service, and not the police.

He said that the police have engaged in discussions with the institutions to find solutions to the issue.

Imran said that the police have, however, conducted joint operations with the police to identify and rescue migrants who are victims of human trafficking.

He said that the police have also conducted special operations to counter prostitution and gambling – both of which he said heavily involved migrants.

Imran said the police have arrested 99 migrants in operations targeting prostitution rings over the last four years.

According to Imran, this included 32 arrests in 14 operations in 2019, 25 arrests in nine operations in 2020, 28 arrests in seven operations in 2021, and 14 arrests in three operations in 2022.

Imran said that though not necessary crimes, the police have been issuing warnings and informing relevant institutions of issues they notice during patrols, including migrants found cleaning vehicles on the roads in a manner that disrupts traffic, and begging people for work.

“We collect information on both locals and migrants found running streetside trades without a permit, share it with the city council on a monthly basis, and work together with the council,” he said.

Imran said the deportation of undocumented migrants and migrants arrested for crimes is a lengthy process, that involves collaboration with multiple agencies, both local and international. He also expressed concern over lack of space in the immigration detention facility, where migrants arrested for crimes are held before deportation.