Maldives gets tough on illegal migrant workers

Male, Dec 27: Maldivian authorities have started to fine firms that employ undocumented expatriate workers, media reports said here Friday.

Immigration Controller Hassan Ali said the initiative was recommended during this week and so far four employers have been fined for the breach, Xinhua reported.

Parties guilty of employing undocumented expats face a fine of between 2,000-10,000 rufiyaa (around $130-650).

A repeat offence carries a penalty of 10,000-20,000 rufiyaa ($650-1300), while a third time offence carries a fine of 20,000-30,000 rufiyaa (around $1300-1950).

If employers repeat the offence for a fourth time, the fine is 30,000-50,000 rufiyaa (around $1950-3250) and the permit to bring in expats would be revoked, media outlet Haveeru reported.

Meanwhile, the Maldives government has decided to offer leniency for the workers who want to return home at their own expense.

The programme to send back the workers who bear the expense on their own will start Monday with leniency allowing them to return to the country after six months.

If undocumented expats are deported, they will not be allowed to return to the Maldives for 10 years.

According to the immigration department, the programme is designed to facilitate undocumented expatriate workers to legalise their stay in Maldives.

Government estimates indicate that there are between 80,000-110,000 expats currently in the Maldives, out of which, 44,000 are believed to be undocumented.

Authorities have deported 173 expats so far this year.

IANS