The Maldives Media Council (MMC) has accused the President’s Office of discouraging journalists from following the council’s rulings and code of conduct.
The MMC’s claims came after Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair told news outlet Sun Online that the government did not support any action against journalists of the Sun Media Group, after three journalists conducted an investigation into illegal prostitution in the Maldives.
The Media Council declared the standard of the written articles were unprofessional and that the articles indicated that the journalists may have been engaged in sexual activities with the prostitutes, and that their style of writing encouraged the activity. It referred the matter to the Prosecutor General.
However, Zuhair told the paper that the government did not consider the articles to be inappropriate, or containing words that indicated that the journalists might have involved themselves in any criminal offences.
In a press release issued by the MMC following the remarks made by the Press Secretary, the MMC accused the President’s Office of obstructing the council’s efforts to establish a culture in which journalists worked within a code of conduct.
The council said the executive was speaking in such a way that implied it could influence the work of the council, which was irresponsible.
‘’It makes the public and the media lose confidence in the legal duty of the council to set the media in the right direction,’’ said the Media Council in the statement. ‘’The remarks made by the Press Secretary were made in a way that it encouraged such writings, and was said without showing any respect to the Islamic principles, laws and the beliefs of an Islamic society.’’
The council also noted that it has declared that the articles were inconsistent with the Media Code of Ethics and that the editorial management of Sun had already apologised over it.
After Sun Magazine published series of articles sharing their experience with prostitutes working at spas and salons in Male’, the MMC pulled the magazines from circulation and forwarded the case to the Prosecutor General to file criminal charges against the paper.
Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair was not responding at time of press.