Court denies petition to halt deportation of 19 Bobufinolhu workers

Expatriate workers in B. Bodufinolhu. (Photo/Navaanavai)

The Criminal Court had denied a petition for a temporary court order to halt the deportation of 19 migrant workers who were arrested in connection to a violent strike at Bodufinolhu, an island under development as a tourist resort in B. Atoll.

The 19 workers were arrested on July 3, a day after disgruntled migrant workers staged a violent strike over months of unpaid wages, during which they destroyed property, held local workers hostage and confronted the police.

They were transferred from the custody of Maldives Police Service to the custody of Maldives Immigration on August 3.

Their legal representatives allege that, in moving the workers to the custody of Maldives Immigration, the government is planning to deport them, and requested the court for a habeas corpus order to halt the process.

The Criminal Court made its decision regarding the petition this Saturday.

The police told the court that the 19 workers were transferred to the custody of Maldives Immigration because they reside in Maldives on invalid visas. Legal representatives for some of the workers contested the assertion, while others did not.

Some of the legal representatives who contested the assertion argued that the police cannot declare the workers to be in Maldives on invalid visas given that the regularization program for undocumented workers launched by the Economic Development Ministry last year will remain open until September 20 this year.

However, the court found that the 19 workers were being detained in accordance with the powers vested in Maldives Immigration under the Immigration Act, and the Prisons and Parole Act.

“The court does not find they are being held unlawfully as stated by the party which lodged the case,” ruled the court.

The court said Maldives Immigration has the legal authority to detain undocumented workers until they can be deported.