The island council of Haa Alif atoll Ihavandhoo issued late Sunday strict restrictions on resident expatriate workers, sparking public outrage and criticism.
The limitations and rules were imposed on expat workers after a local man, Ismail Umar, was found murdered inside Ihavandhoo’s ice plant on Friday. A Bangladeshi national who worked at the ice plant and was arrested in connection to the case has confessed to the crime, stated Police on Sunday. Police added that the expat had been aided by four other expatriates.
The island council had said earlier that it was mulling strict actions against expatriate workers as Ismail Umar is the second local to have been killed by an expatriate in Ihavandhoo, leading to heightened fear and anxiety among local residents.
Ihavandhoo Island Council’s restrictions on expat workers
Follow a curfew of 10:00 p.m. every night
Refrain from gathering in groups except between 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays
Refrain from fishing in any area under the jurisdiction of the island council
Refrain from collecting coconuts, firewood and other such materials from the woods
Refrain from entering the landfill unless to dispose waste
Refrain from attending events held in the island without invitation
The restrictions issued by Ihavandhoo Island Council are in clear violation of the Constitution of the Maldives. Mihaaru understands that the Local Government Authority (LGA) is currently in talks with the Attorney General regarding the issue.
The former deputy of the Human Rights of the Commission (HRCM) Ahmed Tholaal slammed the limitations Ihavandhoo has imposed on expat workers. He noted that only a legislation passed by the parliament, which does not infringe an independent democratic environment, can curtail a right accorded in the Constitution.
“The way I see it, this is discrimination against a certain race of people,” said Tholaal as he questioned the extent to which the island council’s decision will influence and affect the people.
He also voiced concern over how the restrictions may create a negative vision of expatriate workers among locals, as well as the actions of some entities to deprive expats of their rights. He added that some members of Parliament also view expatriate workers as problematic.
Tholaal declared that the authorities must immediately take action against Ihavandhoo Island Council’s decision and called on HRCM to investigate the issue.
Many people have also taken to social media, criticising the restrictions and calling out the injustice of punishing all expatriate workers for crimes committed by a few.
Statistics indicate that the majority of major crimes in the Maldives were committed by locals.