Maldives Journalists Seek Judicial Writ Against Parliamentary Privileges Law

Media Release: The Maldives                                                                       March 11, 2013 The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and partner in the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), is seeking the invalidation of certain clauses of the Parliamentary Privileges Act and will make its case before the High Court of the Maldives on April 30. The MJA believes that section 17(a) and 18(b) of the Act, passed by the Maldivian parliament, or Majlis, overriding a presidential veto, could contravene constitutional guarantees on press freedom. Section 17(a) of the act empowers Parliament or one of its committees to summon anyone to “give witness or to hand over any information” of interest. Section 18 (b) states that any person who does not answer questions after being summoned by a parliament committee would be deemed to be in breach of privilege, and be sentenced to six months in prison or fined between MVR (Maldivian rufiaa) 1,000 (aproximately USD 65) and 3,000 (USD 195). 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 MJA has petitioned the High Court of the Maldives to hold the two specific articles of the Parliamentary Privileges Act invalid on the grounds that it could lead to the violation of this salutary provision of the constitution. The IFJ extends its support to the MJA in its effort to prevent the dilution of the fundamental right to free speech. Forfurther information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919The IFJrepresents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries Findthe IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific Findthe IFJ on Facebook: