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UN human rights chief speaks on suffering of migrant workers in Maldives

November 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Labour Rights

The United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay, during her recent visit to the Maldives, spoke on the plight of the migrant workers in the Maldives, reports Minivan News.

Pillay also highlighted the plight of expatriate labourers in the Maldives, who make up a third of the population and in many cases have been lured to the country by unscrupulous employment brokers.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs [Ahmed Naseem] is very aware of the suffering of foreign workers, and agreed that something needs to be done for these people,” Pillay said.

“You can’t have 60,000 people suffering here while performing work for the benefit of Maldivians and the tourism industry, and pretend this is invisible. The media has a role to give these people a voice so they can explain their problems.

“Many of them are trafficked and the little money they earn is exploited. This is of grave concern to me, because people like this are are protected under the UN Convention on Migrant Workers and their Families. I have urged the Maldives to ratify this, and regularise the presence of 60,000 people

“I also call for an end to the stereotyping of these people as a threat and unwanted.”

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Happy New Year to migrant Bengali workers in Maldives

April 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Labour Rights, Tolerance

April 14 is the New Year’s Day marked by Bengalis in Bangladesh and West Bengal in India. It is the New Year’s Day celebrated by all people in Bangladesh, regardless of their religion. Thousands of migrant Bangladeshi workers live in the Maldives. As their New Year falls, their lives are miserable than ever because of difficulties in purchasing US dollars in the Maldives, forcing the migrant workers to buy dollars at extremely high prices on black market.

Expatriate worker from Bangladesh working in Malé, Maldives.

Expatriate worker from Bangladesh in Malé, Maldives. Life is miserable for migrant Bengali workers in the Maldives.

It is the new year’s day celebrated by a number of communities and countries in South Asia and South East Asia, including Nepal, Thailand, Burma and Cambodia. The day is marked in Kerela, Karnataka, Assam and Orissa states in India. Both Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka mark their new year in mid-April. We extend our new year greetings to those communities and any migrant workers from those communities living in the Maldives.

April 14 also used to be the traditional new year’s day of the Maldives. Our links to the South Asian history and culture are deep-rooted and dates back to centuries. As Maldivians and migrant workers from South Asia live and work in the Maldives, reflecting on the shared identity and culture is essential to foster a higher level of tolerance.

Happy New Year to all Maldvians too!

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Cities on Speed – Bogotá Change

February 28th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Democracy

During the early 1990’s Bogotá was the capital city of Colombia and by far the “worst city in the world”. Doomed by corruption, chaos, poverty and violence, Bogotá was at urban decay.

At the midst of collapse two creative politicians with radically new methods changed the city at a speed never imagined. This is the beautiful story of Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa two mayors who created citizenship, culture and democracy in a rotted city.

Upfront Films in collaboration of the Danish Film Institut and DR present a film of Andreas Dalsgaard.

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Pre-Election Statement by Transparency Maldives

February 4th, 2011 · No Comments · Election

Transparency Maldives expresses deep concern on the low level of voter education and the backtracking of transparency standards set by Elections Commissions in previous elections

Male, 03 February 2011

Transparency Maldives is coordinating a nation-wide domestic election observation of the 2011 Local Council Election. The observation will cover, Male’, Hulhumale’, Villingili and 38 other islands, covering 14 atolls spread over all seven provinces. Twenty partner NGOs will be deploying over 105 accredited observers. The observation effort will cover more than a third of the ballot boxes, covering voting at more than two thirds of the electorate. As part of the larger election observation effort, Transparency Maldives will also be conducting media monitoring for the Local Council Elections. All three main TV stations, four radio stations and three print media will be scrutinized for bias, objectivity and quality of reporting. The domestic observation will assess the conduct of the election in accordance with Maldivian electoral laws and international standards for democratic elections.

Transparency Maldives believes that the pre-election environment of the first ever Local Council Elections to establish a decentralized system of governance is marred by mistrust between stakeholders and has resulted in deterioration of electoral integrity. Appallingly low levels of voter education combined with persistent media bias/propaganda, use of state resources by the ruling party, backtracking of transparency and accessibility standards previously set by the interim Elections Commission in the presidential and parliamentary elections are issues of concern for Transparency Maldives.

An environment of mistrust between the election administration, the government, political parties, candidates and the media has contributed to a decline of trust in electoral systems. Given the complexity of the election and the low level of voter education, Transparency Maldives anticipates a high percentage of invalid ballots. Transparency Maldives also believes that this will contribute to raising tensions as the margin for winning and losing will be low due to the small number of eligible voters spread over a high number of candidates. However, Transparency Maldives commends the Elections Commission for spearheading a meaningful, although a limited and delayed, voter education program in Male’ and the atolls. Transparency Maldives also appreciates the readiness of the Elections Commission in preparing for the Election Day on 5 February.

Transparency Maldives conducted the pre-election environment assessment with emphasis on election administration and coordination, campaigning by political parties and candidates, complaints and redress mechanisms, use of state resources, voter education as well as the conduct of media. In addition to the general observation and monitoring, Transparency Maldives makes this statement based on information received from political parties, media, journalists, independent candidates, community-based organizations, individual observers and partner NGOs. Transparency Maldives will be publishing a post election statement on 7 February and a complete report on the observation of Local Council Elections before 10 March.

For more information please contact Projects Coordinator Aiman Rasheed on +960 790 8967. Aiman Rasheed is also the media focal person for the local council elections. Feel free to call for updates, opinions or comments regarding this press statement as well as developments on Election Day.

Media contact(s): Aiman Rasheed +960 790 8967

Local Council Election pre-election statement

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Panel discussion on MPs’ privileges live on MNBC One

January 9th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Parliament

A panel discussion on the Parliament Members’ Privileges Bill will be broadcast live from 9.30 pm to 10.30 pm tonight by MNBC One.  The panel discussion is organised by three civil society organisations: Madulu, Strength of Society (S.O.S.) and Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN).  The salary and allowance structure formulated by the MPs under article 102 of the constitution will be discussed by the panel as well.

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