MALDIVES: Children's Rights in UN Treaty Body Reports

Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the reports of all UN Treaty Bodies and their follow-up procedures. This does not include the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which are available here:

Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purpose of clarity.


UN Human Rights Committee

Last reported:  12 / 13 July 2012

Concluding Observations issued: 31 August 2012

Issues raised:

Violence: The Committee, while noting the adoption of the Domestic Violence Act in April 2012, is concerned at the persistence of domestic violence, in particular violence against women and girls, in the State party. The Committee is also concerned at the low rate of complaints lodged for domestic violence, and at the lack of effective mechanisms of protection and rehabilitation for victims (art. 2, 3 and 7). Para 11

The State party should take the necessary measures to implement fully the Domestic Violence Act. It should facilitate complaints from victims without fear of reprisals, intimidation or exclusion by the community; investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible with appropriate penalties; and provide compensation to victims. The State party should further establish a proper mechanism of protection, including by setting up shelters and by providing psychological rehabilitation and conduct awareness-raising campaigns on the negative impacts of domestic violence.

Corporal punishment: The Committee is concerned at reported cases of corporal punishment of children in schools. The Committee is also concerned that flogging can be administered to persons for certain offences prescribed by the Sharia law (art. 7). Para 16.

The State should abolish flogging. It should also explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all institutional settings.


UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Ratified in 2006, but not yet reported.


UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Last reported: 11 / 12 August 2011
Concluding Observations issued: 2 September 2011

Issues raised:

Trafficking: The Committee notes with concern that the Maldives is a possible destination country for migrant workers trafficked into labour market and for women trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation (art. 2, 5 and 6). (Paragraph 12).

The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its ongoing efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking, encourages it to enact as soon as possible the Anti-Trafficking Bill under preparation and include information on any progress made in this area in the next periodic report. The Committee also recommends that the State party consider ratifying the 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes.


UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women



Adopted by the committee: 27 February 2015

Published by the Committee: 6 March 2015

Issues raised:

Harmful practices:

The Committee  is concerned at the growing trend in conservative interpretations of religion which encourage stereotypical patterns which negatively impact women and girls, as acknowledged by the State party during the dialogue. The Committee is further concerned about the emergence of cases of female genital mutilation in the State party, despite legislative prohibitions (para.20).

The Committee notes with grave concern that consensual sexual relations outside marriage are still punished with flogging sentences, which disproportionately affect women and girls and deter them from reporting sexual offences. The Committee also regrets the existence of legal exceptions to the minimum age of marriage of 18 years, upon the discretionary power of the Registrar of Marriages, as well as the high number of unregistered marriages in rural and remote areas, including child marriages which negatively impact on girls’ educational and employment opportunities (para.44).


The Committee is concerned that marital rape is not explicitly criminalised in the Sexual Offences Act and that article 14 of the Special Provisions Act to Deal with Child Sex Abuse Offenders allows exemptions in case of sexual offences committed against married girls by their husbands (para.22).

Sexual exploitation:

The Committee reiterates its concerns about emerging forms of internal trafficking (CEDAW/C/MDV/3, para. 21) and the risk of internal trafficking for women and girls from remote islands placed in households in Male to access higher education opportunities (para.24).

The Committee regrets the lack of information and data on women in prostitution, on existing risk factors linked to the growing tourism industry in the State party, as well as on exit programmes and rehabilitation services for women in prostitution, in particular with regard to (a) women and girls involved in drug trade. (para.26).


The Committee is concerned that the State party's nationality laws establish different conditions for women and men as regards the transmission of nationality depending, notably, on religion and marital status, which, as a result, may impact disparately on children born out of wedlock who have foreign mothers (para.30).


While noting the progress achieved in increasing enrolment and completion rates of girls at the primary level, the Committee expresses concern about girls’ limited access to higher levels of education, as well as vocational and technical training due to stereotypes and geographical constraints. The Committee is also concerned about de facto restrictions on the re-entry of pregnant adolescent girls and married girls under the age of 18 in the formal educational system. Further, the Committee notes with concern that women and girls are concentrated in traditional fields of study (para.32).


The Committee is concerned about The limited access to obstetric health services, including pre- and post-natal services, for women living in remote areas; The restricted access, in practice, to sexual and reproductive health services, for unmarried women and girls, despite the National Family Planning Guideline which provides for the right to receive services irrespective of marital status (para.36).


Last reported: 19 January 2007
Concluding Observations issued: 2 February 2007

Issues raised:

Stereotyping: While the Committee welcomes the efforts made to change stereotypes, including awareness-raising and sensitization activities, and other noteworthy developments, such as the inclusion of a gender equality provision in the national media policy, the Committee is concerned about the subordinate and subservient role women and girls continue to play within the family and the deep-rooted, traditional stereotypical attitudes that persist, and which are reflected particularly in women’s professional and educational opportunities and choices and their participation in public and political life. (Paragraph 17).

The Committee urges the State party to strengthen measures to eradicate negative stereotypes and to carry out training for parliamentarians and decision-makers on the importance of equality of women and men in a democratic society. It also recommends that information on the content of the Convention be disseminated in the educational system, including in the rural (atoll) areas, that school textbooks and teaching materials be reviewed and revised and that human rights education have a gender perspective, with a view to changing existing stereotypical views on and attitudes towards women’s and men’s roles in the family and society and creating an environment that is supportive of the practical realization of the principle of equality of women and men. It recommends that the media continue to be encouraged to project positive images of women and of the equal status and responsibilities of women and men in the private and public spheres.

Violence: While noting the establishment of rudimentary support services for women victims of violence and the projected 11 shelters to be established in 2007, the Committee expresses its deep concern about the prevalence of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, which appears to be tolerated or even expected by society. The Committee is also concerned about the legislative gaps in this area, including the lack of specific legislation on domestic violence and specific legislation to address sexual harassment. (Paragraph 19).

The Committee urges the State party to give priority attention to combating violence against women and to adopt comprehensive measures to address all forms of violence against women and girls in accordance with its general recommendation 19 on violence against women. The Committee calls on the State party to enact legislation on domestic violence and on all forms of sexual abuse, including sexual harassment, as soon as possible. Such legislation should ensure that: violence against women and girls constitutes a criminal offence; women and girls who are victims of violence have access to immediate means of redress and protection; and perpetrators are prosecuted and adequately punished. The Committee recommends the implementation of training for parliamentarians, the judiciary and public officials, in particular law enforcement personnel, and health-service providers in order to ensure that they are sensitized to all forms of violence against women and can provide adequate support to victims. It also recommends the carrying out of further public awareness-raising campaigns on all forms of violence against women.

Exploitation: The Committee is concerned about the lack of information and data on the exploitation of prostitutes and by the lack of rehabilitation services provided to them. It is also concerned about the lack of attention paid by the State party to the problem of trafficking in women and the resulting lack of information about the extent of trafficking in women, both internal trafficking and cross-border trafficking, as well as by the absence of measures taken, including legislation, to address this issue. The Committee is further concerned by the possibility that women and girls who have been exploited in prostitution could be re-victimized by the authorities because of the criminalization of extramarital relations. (Paragraph 21).

The Committee urges the State party to: pursue a holistic approach in order to provide women and girls with educational and economic alternatives to prostitution; facilitate the reintegration of prostitutes into society; and provide rehabilitation and economic empowerment programmes for women and girls exploited in prostitution. The Committee urges the State party to consider ratifying the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementary to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and to initiate steps to combat all forms of trafficking in women and girls, including by enacting specific and comprehensive legislation on the phenomenon. The Committee further calls upon the State party to consider formulating a plan of action with clear goals, to train police officers to deal with inter-island and cross-border trafficking, to cooperate with other countries in the region so as to address more effectively the causes of trafficking and to improve prevention of trafficking through information exchange. The Committee urges the State party to prosecute and punish traffickers and to ensure the protection of the human rights of trafficked women and girls.

Education: The Committee is concerned at the gap between males and females in the educational system at the tertiary level. While recognizing that there has been an increase in the number of girls enrolling in traditionally male-dominated fields of study and in tourism and hospitality courses, the Committee is concerned at the persistence of gender segregation in educational fields and its consequences for women’s professional opportunities. It is also concerned by the marked difference in the quality of education in urban and rural (atolls) areas and the greater negative impact of the disparity on girls due to a lack of appropriate boarding facilities on islands other than their home island. The Committee is further concerned that pregnant girls are suspended from school and may not resume their studies after giving birth. (Paragraph 27).

The Committee urges the State party to strengthen proactive measures for women’s access to tertiary levels of education, particularly for rural women, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25 and to actively encourage the diversification of educational and professional choices for women and men. It further urges the State party to implement measures to support pregnant girls and raise awareness in secondary schools about teenage pregnancy prevention. The Committee encourages the State party to monitor and regularly assess the impact of such policies and programmes in relation to the full implementation of article 10 of the Convention.

UN Committee against Torture

Ratified in 2004, but not yet reported.


UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture

Report issued: 26 February 2009

Corporal punishment

In the initial talks with the Minister for Justice, Attorney General and the Minister for Home Affairs the delegation was informed that flogging remains an applicable sentence for certain offences. The authorities noted, however, that this punishment was intended to inflict humiliation rather than physical pain. The delegation understood that even children may be subject to flogging; for the offences for which flogging is prescribed, they must assume criminal responsibility once they reach puberty. (Paragraph 26).

Deliberate infliction of pain as a form of control or punishment is both inhuman and degrading. The SPT shares the views expressed by the Human Rights Committee (HRC) in its general comment No. 20 on prohibition of torture and cruel treatment or punishment, according to which the prohibition of torture enshrined in article 7 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)13 should be extended to corporal punishment.14 The Special Rapporteur on Torture also has taken the view that corporal punishment is inconsistent with the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment enshrined in the international human rights instruments.15 As regards the practice of flogging, the SPT emphasizes that the HRC has considered flogging as cruel and inhuman punishment prohibited by article 7 of ICCPR, and the Committee against Torture has taken the view that flogging is not in conformity with the Convention against Torture.16 (Paragraph 27).

Furthermore, the SPT is concerned about the fact that section 44 of the draft Penal Code would legalize corporal punishment of children at schools and institutions. The SPT shares the opinion of the Committee on the Rights of the Child which, in its latest concluding observations on the Maldives, considered that the practice of flogging was contrary to article 37 (a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.17 The SPT considers that the practice of flogging, whether inflicted upon a child or an adult and irrespective of whether it is intended to inflict humiliation or physical pain, is unacceptable because of its inherent humiliating and degrading nature. It should therefore not be an applicable sentence for any offences. (Paragraph 28).

The SPT recommends that the Government of Maldives prohibit all types of corporal punishment, including flogging irrespective of whether inflicted with the purpose to cause pain or humiliation, as a sentence for crime and for disciplinary purposes. (Paragraph 29).

Administration of juvenile justice and safeguards for children in conflict with the law

The main legal framework for the administration of Juvenile Justice includes the following legislation: the Penal Code; the Law on the Protection of the Rights of the Children (Law No. 9/91); Rules on Interrogation Adjudication and Sentencing relating to juveniles (amended in 2004); the Family Act (Law No. 4/2000); and the Regulation on Conducting Trials, Investigations and Sentencing fairly for Offences Committed by Minors. The SPT understands that the Government is in the process of reforming the administration of juvenile justice, including plans to draft a Juvenile Justice Act. (Paragraph 30).

There is only one Juvenile Court, in Malé, and for that reason children need to come to the capital for a number of specified cases. However, some cases involving children in conflict with the law can be dealt with by the Island Courts. (Paragraph 31).

The SPT recalls, that in line with article 37 (b) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all deprivation of liberty of a child, including arrest, detention and imprisonment, should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, so that the child’s right to development is fully respected and ensured. Specific safeguards for children deprived of their liberty and the possibility to avail themselves of those safeguards are discussed in more detail in the chapter V sections A and C below. (Paragraph 32).

The SPT recommends that the authorities of the Maldives ensure that, in all decisions taken within the context of the administration of juvenile justice and in all plans to review the relevant legislation, the best interests of the child are given primary consideration. This includes the first contact with the police, the possible stay in police custody and in pretrial detention and the stay in a prison or other facility for children that they are not free to leave at will.18 (Paragraph 33).

Children deprived of their liberty

During the visit, the SPT interviewed children deprived of their liberty held at the Ha. Dhidhdoo Police Station and at the Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre. (Paragraph 134).

The SPT emphasises that the children in conflict with the law should benefit not only from the same safeguards as adult detainees, but also from specific safeguards intended to ensure that children are treated in a manner which reflects their specific needs. In this respect, the SPT refers in particular to the general comment No. 10 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on Children’s rights in juvenile justice.34 (Paragraph 135).

In light of the above, and further to the recommendations made elsewhere in the report, the SPT recommends that the authorities ensure that a parent or other guardian be present every time a child is questioned by the police and that children enjoy unrestricted access to a lawyer. The SPT further recommends that children should always be held separately from adult detainees, preferably in separate institutions; and that holding facilities for children should fulfil adequate hygiene standards and provide possibilities for outdoor exercise; and that staff working in these facilities should be provided with adequate training to work with underage detainees. (Paragraph 136).

By a note verbale of 22 June 2008 the authorities acknowledged the generally poor conditions for juveniles held in the Dhoonidhoo Detention centre and gave assurances to the SPT that plans were underway, with the assistance of the Ministry of Gender and Family, to construct a separate facility for juveniles which would fulfil acceptable standards for juveniles. The SPT requests to be informed of the opening of a separate detention facility to accommodate children in conflict with the law. (Paragraph 137).

The delegation got access to a “Medico Legal Report” concerning a 15 year old Maldivian girl who, in 2007, was brought by the police to a local hospital for a gynaecological examination “since the police wanted to confirm if she had had sexual relations”. It appears implicitly from the medical document that the examination was done without the girl’s consent, and the report did not contain any remark as to whether her parents had been informed and called to be present during the examination. Furthermore, the legal basis for the examination was totally unclear: it did not appear from the report that she had claimed to be victim of a crime, nor was there any information to the effect that she was suspected of having committed an offence. (Paragraph 138).

In the light of the above, the SPT underlines that a forensic medical examination must always have a clear legal basis, and that examination of minors should always be safeguarded by the presence of parents or other guardian, unless a minor clearly expresses the contrary. The medical report on such an examination should include the legal basis, all persons present in the examination and whether any force was used during the examination, and if so, its nature and the reason for using it. (Paragraph 139).

Youth rehabilitation centres

The delegation visited the Maafushi Training Centre for Children and the Children’s Home in Vilingili, and would like to commend the respective Ministries for the visible efforts that have been made to provide adequate educational and recreational activities and good material conditions for children held in those institutions. The places were clean, the records well-kept and the atmosphere was agreeable. (Paragraph 244).

1. Maafushi Educational Training Centre for Children

This Centre works under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. It accommodated boys with problems with school or who lack self-control or with behaviour problems. At the time of the visit, there were 34 boys aged between 10 and 18 years and 48 staff members working in shifts. (Paragraph 245).

Children were accommodated in rooms measuring around 37m2, with six beds in each of the rooms, which were not locked at night. Rooms were clean, workshops well designed and equipped, and there was plenty of space for recreational activities. Toilets were in an acceptable state of repair and cleanliness. The establishment did not look like a place of deprivation of liberty. The members of the delegation interviewed several boys and heard no complaints. The SPT recommends that these types of centres should be used as a model also when establishing centres for children in conflict with the law. (Parasgraph 246).

Children were authorised to have one phone call per month to their parents, without a time limit on that call. Children were also allowed to leave the establishment for holidays with their parents. The SPT recommends that a number of calls be increased bearing in mind the age of the children placed in that Centre. (Paragraph 247).

The SPT was informed by the Director that, as regards disciplinary punishment, the rules and regulations did not include corporal punishment. If disciplinary measures were needed, children might be punished by the cancellation of their favourite TV programme. Decisions on disciplinary measures were taken by the teachers. The SPT recommends that all incidents and punishments and other disciplinary measures be systematically recorded in an incident book in a manner allowing proper oversight of use of those measures. (Paragraph 248).

2. Vilingili children’s home

This Centre was opened two years ago and is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Gender and Family. It accommodates child victims of abuse, children whose parents were in prison and children who were abandoned in hospital at birth. At the time of the SPT visit there were 38 children, 20 boys and 18 girls. Most of the children were between 2 and 12 years old, however, the youngest two were under 7 months of age. Children could stay at the home until they finished primary school. Placement at the home was decided by the Ministry, and the Ministry was also informed of the arrival of the child. Children attended school and counsellors worked with children with problems. Children whose parents were in prison could meet them at the Ministry. (Paragraph 249).

Children were accommodated in different parts of the building depending on their age and gender. The establishment was clean, nicely furnished and decorated. The children were taken care of by 45 staff members, working in shifts, who seemed to be competent and attentive to the needs of the children. The members of the delegation interviewed several children and heard no complaints. The SPT commends the authorities for having created very good conditions for these children in need of protection. (Paragraph 250).


UN Committee on Migrant Workers

Not yet signed or ratified.


UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Ratified in 2010, but not yet reported.


UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance

Signed in 2007, but not yet ratified.


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