Parliament accepts bill to amend Privileges Act to protect journalist sources

Parliament has accepted a bill to amend clauses in the Parliament Privileges Act potentially requiring journalists to reveal their sources before parliamentary committees.

Article 28 of the constitution states – “Everyone has the right to freedom of the press, and other means of communication, including the right to espouse, disseminate and publish news, information, views and ideas. No person shall be compelled to disclose the source of any information that is espoused, disseminated or published by that person.”

However Section 17(a) of the Parliamentary Privileges Act states: “[Parliament or a Parliamentary Committee has the power to] summon anyone to parliament or one of its committees to give witness or to hand over any information which the parliament wish to seek.”

Penalties for disobeying range between MVR1000-3000, and three to six months imprisonment.

The bill to amend the act was accepted for review by parliament with a 47 vote majority.