The harsh treatment of foreign workers in the Maldives during the Covid-19 pandemic has left many migrants vulnerable to abuse, Human Rights Watch said today. The Maldives government should adopt urgent measures to protect migrant workers, including upholding the right to peaceful protest and ending longstanding labor rights violations.

Migrant workers in the Maldives face a range of entrenched abuses from employers, including deceptive recruitment practices, wage theft, passport confiscation, unsafe living and working conditions, and excessive work demands, which indicate forced labor and violate domestic and international standards. The spread of Covid-19 and the lockdown to contain it has exacerbated these conditions, as workers face job loss, unpaid leave, reduced salaries, and forced work without pay.