Human Rights Watch yesterday urged the Maldives to drop charges against 80 migrant workers arrested for demanding their unpaid wages in a country otherwise known for its upmarket tourism.
The New York-based group said authorities detained the foreign workers during separate demonstrations against inhumane living conditions and work without pay.
“The authorities should drop charges and release all those held for engaging in peaceful protest, and address allegations of human trafficking and other abuses…,” HRW said in a statement.
Workers in the construction sector had not been paid even before the country went into coronavirus lockdown in March, according to officials. Sporadic clashes erupted since May.
Bangladeshi worker Mohammad Mohsin told AFP by phone that clashes with police broke out two weeks ago as they had not been paid for six months.
“Our families are dying at home starving and being hunted by loan sharks,” Mohsin said, referring to much borrowing money to travel to the Maldives in search of what they believed would be well-paid jobs.
The Maldives has 3,175 coronavirus cases. 15 people have died.
The majority of infections have been among Bangladeshi workers who often live in squalid conditions on the highly congested capital island.
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