The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) in strongly criticising the use of force by police officers during the arrest of a journalist in the capital Male on February 13. The IFJ urge the local authorities to investigate the incident.
According to reports, on Sunday, February 13, Hussain Fariyaz, a sports journalist for the opposition-aligned Rajje TV, was arrested when plain clothed police officers entered the Rajje TV newsroom. Fariyaz was arrested without a court warrant and detained for two hours. When he was released, police reportedly admitted to making a mistake with his arrest. Photos of the arrest show Fariyaz’s clothes ripped, while he is being manhandled and pushed into the police vehicle.
Raajje TV claimed that Fariyaz was arrested for taking a photo of a police officer taking a bottle of alcohol during a raid. However the police said in a statement that Fariyaz had tried to ‘flee’ from officers when he was asked to show a media pass. He was arrested for ‘disobeying orders’.
The IFJ said: “The arrest of a journalist and subsequent release without any charge show it’s an attempt to harass the journalist and the media outlet. The IFJ condemn the police handling of the incident and urge the Maldivian government to probe the case to punish those involved; and ensure no repetition of such incidents in future.”
Rajje TV is regularly targeted by authorities in the Maldives. In November, 2015, Raajje TV suspended current affairs coverage following the brief detention of a journalist and warnings from the the media regulatory body of revoking the licenses of stations that air content deemed to endanger national security. In February 2013, Raajje TV reporter Ibrahim ‘Asward’ Waheed was nearly beaten to death, while in October 2013, the station’s offices and equipment were destroyed in an arson attack.
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