New Maldives Law on Parliamentary Privilege Could Impact Journalistic Freedom

Media Release: The Maldives                                                                       

March 11, 2013

  

The International

Federation of Journalists joins its affiliate the Maldives Journalists

Association (MJA) and partner in the South Asia Media Solidarity Network

(SAMSN), in expressing concern on the recently passed Parliamentary Privileges

Act that could soon become law.

The Parliamentary

Privileges Act was initially passed by the Maldives parliament, the Majlis in

December 2012, but effectively vetoed when President Mohammad Waheed returned

it for reconsideration. In recently passing the act afresh by sufficient votes

to override the presidential veto, the Majlis has indicated that it intends it

to become law without further delay.

The MJA believes that

section 17(a) of the act which empowers Parliament or one of its committees to

summon anyone to “give witness or to hand over any information” of interest, is

too broad in its provisions and could undermine the constitutional protection

that journalists currently enjoy.

Under article 28 of

the Maldives constitution every citizen enjoys the right to freedom of speech

and expression and nobody “shall be compelled to disclose the source of any

information that is espoused, disseminated or published by that person.”

The IFJ believes that

this is a salutary provision of law which makes the Maldives one of the few

countries to provide constitutional protection to sources of journalists’

information.

The IFJ joins the MJA

in asking for a reconsideration of provisions in the Parliamentary Privileges

Act which may undermine this valuable protection afforded to journalists and

all citizens.

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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