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Maldives makes leeway on press freedom index

Ahmed Aiham
20 April 2019, MVT 21:33
'Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) ranked Maldives on the 98th position of its 2019 'World Press Freedom Index'. PHOTO: AFP
Ahmed Aiham
20 April 2019, MVT 21:33

French-based 'Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) placed Maldives on the 98th position of its 2019 'World Press Freedom Index', an elevation of 22 ranks, as compared to the 2018 rank of 120.

"For press freedom, the first half of 2018 was no different from the preceding years under Abdulla Yameen, who was elected president in 2013. Maldives fell steadily in the World Press Freedom Index under Yameen, from 103rd in 2013 to 120th in 2018.", reported RSF.

Highlighting a stark increase of police brutality during the tenure of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, RSF noted that police violence is no longer considered an issue following President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's rise to power.

However, the media watchdog stated that "impunity for crimes against journalists remains", adding that police never found the whereabouts of abducted journalist Ahmed Rilwan, nor have they solved the brutal murder of blogger and IT professional Yameen Rasheed.

RSF expressed raised hopes for Maldives since the election of President Solih, as he vowed certain presidential pledges to improve press freedoms.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih tweets in response to demands by the Asia-Pacific desk of 'Reporters Without Borders'. PHOTO: TWITTER

"One promise has been kept: two months after the elections, parliament repealed the draconian 2016 law on defamation, which had been widely used by the previous government to harass independent media outlets...", noted RSF.

Rankings over the past seven years;

2013 - 103th | 2014 - 108th | 2015 - 112th | 2016 - 112th | 2017- 117th | 2018 - 120th | 2019 - 98th

In line with 2018, Norway managed to secure 1st place on the rankings, with Finland, Sweden and Netherlands coming in 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively.

According to RSF, the Index ranks 180 countries and regions based on the level of freedom available for journalists. It acts as an illustration of the media situation based on an evaluation of pluralism (political theory), media independence, legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country.

The index is frequently referred to by international entities such as the World Bank and the United Nations.

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