Leader of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Monday called on the government to stop impeding journalism and media, and establish an environment for free media.
In a statement condemning the ongoing investigations into several journalists, Former President Maumoon stated that free media and journalism is one of the fundamentals that holds the government accountable for its actions and assure the rights of citizens.
However, on behalf of PPM, he noted that free media in the Maldives has met with several challenges, accusing the new Defamation and Freedom of Speech Act integrated into the Constitution as the government’s means of silencing the voices of journalists.
“I believe that creating a law that gives the power to pass hefty penalisations under the guise of preventing defamation is to protect the corruption and extortion of certain entities while silencing journalists,” said Maumoon.
He went on to say that three journalists of local television channel Raajje TV, Mohamed Visam, Leevan Ali Nazeer and Adam Zareer were arrested and convicted while they were fulfilling their duties as journalists.
The former president also expressed concern over the current criminal investigation into Mihaaru’s journalist Fazeena Ahmed, declaring that reporting the words of another is not a crime.
“Therefore I call upon the authorities to renounce the charges on journalists. The dark days that have fallen upon media are greatly worrying to the citizens and members of PPM.”
Maumoon also voiced concern over lack of sufficient effort to find Rilwan Abdulla, the journalist of Minivan News that have been missing for over two years.
He called on the government to establish free media in the nation, and to investigate and take legal action against those responsible for the threats and attacks against journalists.