Police has sought human trafficking charges against RIX Maldives, whose failure to provide wages to its expatriate workers lead to unrest in Bodufinolhu island of Baa atoll in July last year.
Police’s media officer told RaajjeMV that they completed the investigation and forwarded the case for prosecution on December 3 last year.
The situation in Bodufinolhu island escalated in July after months of protests over unpaid wages, with the expatriate workers taking around 13 locals as hostages. All the hostages were rescued in less than 24 hours, and those that were involved were taken into custody and subsequentially remanded.
They were released from custody and transferred to Maldives Immigration in August, which the workers’ legal team said is against the country’s anti-torture laws.
RIX Maldives has admitted to not paying the migrant workers for months, claiming that this was due to the project owner Seal Maldives’ failure to make payments.
The whole issue has turned into a he said, she said situation, with both RIX Maldives and Seal Maldives denying each other’s claims. As such, while RIX Maldives said that the project owner had provided ‘a fraction of the total owed upon completion of the project’, Seal Maldives denies this and said that it had paid “even more than owed”.
Seal Maldives also accused RIX Maldives of neglecting the rights of its migrant workers.
Police confirmed that it was investigating RIX Maldives on human trafficking allegations, shortly after the situation broke out, as well as allegations of exploitation and failing to provide employment fees on behalf of its foreign employees.
Local anti-corruption NGO, Transparency Maldives described the Bodufinolhu unrest as “a consequence of injustices suffered by migrant workers in the Maldives, every day” and called on the state to investigate the issues that led to the unrest and take legal action against those who violated migrant workers’ rights, instead of re-victimising them.