IFJ warns that Privileges Act will undermine journalist source protection

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has warned that the Parliamentary Privileges Act pressed into law today (March 12) will undermine the ability of Maldivian journalists to protect their sources.

Journalists in many developed countries, including the UK and Australia, are routinely sentenced to contempt of court extending to imprisonment for declining to reveal sources when asked.

The Maldives is one of the few countries to have so-called ‘shield laws’ protecting journalists from this, with the constitution containing specific provisions concerning freedom of expression in a bid to inspire confidence in potential whistleblowers.

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 new 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.”

The Act was passed after a presidential veto was overridden by parliament, in a vote that obtained rare cross-party support. The Act follows the refusal of senior government and police officials to attend committee hearings when summoned, including Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz, and would theoretically criminalise such refusal in future.

The IFJ endorse the the Maldivian Journalist Association (MJA)’s opinion that the new power “is too broad in its provisions and could undermine the constitutional protection that journalists currently enjoy.”

“The IFJ believes that [Article 28 of the Constitution] 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 said in a statement.

“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,” it added.


4 thoughts on “IFJ warns that Privileges Act will undermine journalist source protection”

  1. These Mp only want money for themselves even by invading the rights of others.

    This privilege act even goes beyond to ensure that they get 50% of the monthly salary even after thier terms are completed and they get diplomatic pass port, world wide insurance for themselves, wives and children alike.

    I doubt that when these idiots terms are completed, they will ever get elected again. By the time , when we have three terms completed, 50% of the total revenue from the Government need to spend on these idiots.

  2. @ Kuribee on Tue, 12th Mar 2013 5:19 PM

    Just shows how little you actually know when you open your mouth.

    A diplomatic passport does absolutely nothing for the holder apart from giving them protection from detention in the country they are accredited to.

    For instances if the holder works in the embassy in China the status is only whilst in China, it does not give him/her any other rights in any other country. In fact even their personal luggage is not excempt from customs or immigration. Only offical baggage is protected under the Vienna Contention.

    When i say protection from detention, this only relates to offical state business. Theft, murder, driving offences and any other laws that are broken ensures diplomatic immunity is revoked to allow them to be charged and prosecuted by the host nation. If you would like to check the facts, look at the US diplomat who shot someone in Pakistan, he is now serving a prison sentence in Pakistan.

    So in future, shut your mouth until you know what you are talking about.

  3. DMF, you better shut your f.... mouth? you idiot does not know what i have mentioned in my comments.

    Read it ?

    I have mentioned some privileges these MPs are getting under this bill and out of the benefits, diplomatic pass port is one and i have not mentioned the benefits of having this pass port.

    May be you are one of the Mp or relative who are entitled for these benefits.

    People like you who have thinks that you know everything are the biggest problem in this country.

    You are damn idiot

  4. @ Kuribee on Wed, 13th Mar 2013 1:42 PM

    Oh what a good muslim you are to resort to abusive swear words. Shows a complete lack of education if you can't quantify what the purpose of your statement is in regards to diplomatic passport, why mention it if it has no purpose to your arguement.

    Typical islamic caveman, responding with anger because you can't form a valid discussion to the news article. People like you are the fault with the Maldives, you can't accept that individuals have a right to free speech and free thinking.

    I and many others can listen to a rounded opinion and accept there will always be a difference, but you spout hatred against any who disagree. I suggest you seek divine guidance for your foul tongue, there is no place in heaven for men who abuse their fellow man on earth and no place for fools like yourself who can't live in peace with their fellow man.

    If you can't take it don't give it out.


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