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.