Media Council slams Defense Ministry over threats to media

The Maldives Media Council (MMC) has expressed concern over the Ministry of Defense’s threatening the media for criticizing the dismissal of nine soldiers.

In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Defense threatened to take action against any party who criticized the ministry’s “routine” disciplinary actions.

The MMC – an elected 15 member council with media and public representatives – said the ministry’s statement infringes on freedom of the press and stressed that the freedom of press cannot be limited any more than is stated in the constitution.

The council appealed to the Defense Ministry to forward media complaints to the council instead of taking direct action against media outlets and reminded the Defense Ministry that the MMC is the legally authorized body to discipline any media.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has also criticized the “politically motivated and unjust” dismissal of nine high-ranking officers at the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF).

The nine were dismissed on charges of sowing discord within the military during the political tension surrounding the annulment, cancellation and delay of several round of presidential polls.

At the time, 17 high ranking officers signed a letter expressing concern over delay of polls and the repercussions in the absence of a president elect by the end of the presidential term on November 11.

Shortly afterwards, 73 mid ranking officers circulated an appeal calling on fellow soldiers not to obey “unlawful” orders issued by former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan or his political appointees following the expiry of the presidential term.

The MMC has recently expressed concern with the Supreme Court asking the police to investigate a report aired by opposition aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV.

The police on Sunday sent case documents to the Prosecutor General’s office and requested charges be filed.

The military deployed soldiers to protect media outlets in October after masked men torched Raajje TV’s headquarters. The fire completely destroyed the station’s offices.


2 thoughts on “Media Council slams Defense Ministry over threats to media”

  1. Quite right. The military is not the courts. Criticism of court rulings unless in an academic manner amounts to contempt of court and should be punished.

    BUT the public through the media should be free to express their opinion about actions taken by the military, the government, Parliament etc. These institutions are accountable to the public.

    If media reports make unfounded claims the best thing to do is to take them to court. We need to engender a culture of referring these matters to the courts for settlement. Instead of making threats let us engage with the public and point out when the media goes wrong. Our press is as yet very weak and almost all puppets of political parties (paid, nurtured, cared for and sometimes even related to politicians). We need to expose what the members of the press are doing wrong. The people will be receptive. The Maldivian public is very much disgusted with the level of 'journalism' carried out in the Maldives and would be glad to express their views on the subject.

    It is through public debate that these things will improve - not through threats.

  2. This is democracy Robert Mugabe style. Was Gayyoom ever a student of Mr Mugabe? Highly likely, since a string of former dictators were also Gayyoom's pals, including Saddam, Gaddafi, Mubarek and so on.


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