IFJ Demands Release of Detained Journalists in the Maldives

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, while welcoming the release on 9 May of Fatimath Nisreen, stressed the need for widespread democratic reform, freedom of expression and release of all detained journalists in the Maldives.

"The granting of presidential amnesty and release of Fatimath Nisreen is the result of sustained international pressure to establish fundamental freedoms- a campaign that must go on until all political prisoners are released and democratic rights are restored in the Maldives," said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

Fatimath Nisreen was arrested along with Ibrahim Moosa Luthfee, Mohamed Zaki and Ahmed Ibrahim Didi in 2002 for running Sandhaanu, an Internet e-mail magazine critical of the government. They were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment. While Lufthee managed to flee while on treatment in Sri Lanka, Mohamed Zaki and Ahmed Didi continue to remain under house arrest. They were given life imprisonment which was later reduced to 15 years jail.

During her imprisonment, Nisreen was banished to an island far from home, although she was eventually allowed to return to the Maldives capital, Malé, to live under house arrest. Sentenced to five years in prison, she was not due to be released until February 2007.

The IFJ declared that journalists must not be jailed for doing their job of truth-telling and informing the public, and demanded the immediate release of all detained journalists in the country.

"Fatimath Nisreen's release should not be confined to image building for the government, but should herald a process that will end the repression on political activists and journalists and end President Abdul Mamoon Gayoom's repressive regime," said Warren, calling upon the President to immediately set in motion the process of establishing multi-party democracy.

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries

For more information please contact Christopher Warren +61 (0) 411 757 668