The Edition


AG Office assures Defamation Bill will not affect journalists, media

Shahudha Mohamed
06 October 2020, MVT 22:21
Reporters and journalists at a protest against the persecution of media and press in 2016.
Shahudha Mohamed
06 October 2020, MVT 22:21

Attorney General's (AG) Office, on Tuesday, assured that journalists and media will not be affected by the bill which ensures compensation for defamation.

Various media outlets have raised concerns about the purpose of the bill, which is planned to be submitted to the Parliament amongst the 28 bills for its third session.

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration had introduced the Defamation Act, which was misused to impede journalistic freedoms. Within two years of the Act coming into effect, multiple TV stations were penalised and fined.

Director of Communications at the AG Office, Hussain Hassan stated that the new bill aims to provide compensation for a defamed individual, as the current law already states.

He added that no Section in the bill is targeted towards media or journalists, and stations will not have to take responsibility for broadcasting controversial content.

"The person who made the statements will have to take responsibility", he asserted.

According to Hussain, the bill aims to provide legality to the guidelines that are already in place.

He also noted that media outlets' suggestions will be welcomed and considered before drafting the bill.

The main issue criticised in the Defamation Act ratified in the previous government was the danger of listing a broad definition of defamation, which allowed charges based on artwork, gestures or statements which can be misconstrued as defamation.

This led to the Act being misused to punish individuals and companies for words and gestures said without any malicious intent behind them.

Repealing the controversial Act was one of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's key pledges, and it was the first pledge he fulfilled after being sworn into office.