Saturday 15th Jun 2024
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Member Ali Riza

US Report Sheds Light on Exploitation of Migrant Workers in Maldives: MP Ali Riza at the Helm

A recent report by the US State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has placed Maldivian Member of Parliament, Ali Riza, under an international spotlight. Riza, a representative for the Milandhoo constituency and a prominent member of the ruling MDP party, has been implicated in a major human trafficking case.
The report assesses the Maldives' handling of human trafficking and concluded that the island nation has not met the minimum standards set by international bodies to combat the issue. Furthermore, it drew attention to the government's questionable conduct in dealing with cases tied to public servants.
Riza's Riz Company, responsible for the development of a resort in B. Badafinolhu, was under investigation after allegations of human trafficking surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It is claimed that a large number of foreign workers were misled and trafficked into the Maldives under Riza's supervision.
The company is accused of capitalizing on the vulnerability of these migrant workers, exploiting their impoverished conditions, and compelling them to work extended hours without adequate remuneration. Furthermore, the company allegedly violated governmental regulations by failing to pay due fees.
Two of over 200 foreign workers on the resort project were reportedly deported without any prosecution for alleged human trafficking and exploitation. The report suggests that these dismissals reflect a broader trend of leniency towards political figures involved in trafficking.
Critics have cited Riza's influential role within the ruling MDP party and his close alliance with President Mohammed Solih as potential factors influencing the delay and ultimate withdrawal of the case against him. This incident adds to a series of controversies, including the withdrawal of corruption charges against Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof and the dismissal of a sexual assault case against former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed.
The withdrawal of charges against key political figures has raised concerns about potential systemic corruption, shielding those in power from facing legal repercussions. The Maldivian government's ongoing handling of human trafficking cases is now being watched closely by international observers, and their response could have significant implications on the country's global standing.