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.


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