IFJ alarmed at MJA claims of spike in hostility towards media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has issued a press statement expressing alarm at “increasing hostile actions against independent media in the Maldives.”

Verbal attacks and vandalism by unknown persons against private broadcaster VTV had contributed to “a climate of intolerance” against the broadcaster, the IFJ said, “according to information received from IFJ affiliate, the Maldives Journalists’ Association (MJA).”

The IFJ statement also noted that “the MJA has drawn attention to a threat of action held out against VTV by ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, leader of the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group, following what the MDP leader characterised as ‘repeated’ broadcasts of news stories critical of his party.”

The IFJ further repeated claims by the MJA that Head of the Male’ Municipality Adam Manik had “reportedly attacked” a cameraman belonging to private broadcaster DhiTV, and confiscated his camera.

Manik admitted taking the camera but denied attacking the cameraman, following the incident last week, and returned the item in the presence of police.

“Cameramen are not allowed to film on government property without authorisation,” he said, adding that “the media is too occupied with making the news instead of reporting it.”

IFJ Asia Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said the international organisation “supports the MJA’s effort to dissuade the officials responsible for these incidents, and indeed all individuals, from persisting with such hostile actions against journalists and media organisations.”

“The physical and verbal attacks on media organisations that have been recurring in the Maldives could create an environment that would be adverse to press freedom in the country,” she added.

Press Secretary for the President, Mohamed Zuhair, said he believed “the facts have been overblown and the IFJ misled.”

“The IFJ ought to know that that media in the Maldives was a state monopoly for 30 years and remains exactly as it was under the former regime, with the only change that it can now report freely,” he said. “This is a new concept for them and is why they feel so uncomfortable being taken to task.”

“The government no longer sponsors private media, and while some public officials may show hostility to the media, there is a broader picture – they are immediately accountable.”

Zuhair further alleged that the majority of the members of the MJA “are apologists and sympathisers of the former regime. I don’t think a single journalist involved in the reform process is in the MJA.”

He also claimed that MDP MP Reeko Moosa’s claims regarding the corruption of media “voiced the allegations of many in his party” that private media was being subverted to serve the political interests of its owners.

“I don’t believe people should invest in media for political purposes,” he said. “You don’t go fishing for political purposes – you go fishing for fish.”

PIC report

The MJA has meanwhile also called for the Department of Information to retract a decision to deduct five points from DhiFM’s broadcasting license, after the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) ruled that a police order for the station to cease covering a riot outside the presidential residence on January 28 violated the police act.

Police claimed that the order was given because the DhiFM coverage was broadcast in such a manner that it was a potential threat to national security, however police failed to convince the commission.

Following the incident, the government’s Department of Information docked five points from DhiFM’s broadcasting license for eight contract violations, with the content review committee claiming that DhiFM’s coverage breached aspects of the code including failing to distinguish between fact and opinion, produce unbiased and balance coverage of controversial/political events, and promoting criminal activities as “something good or acceptable.”

Then-Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad, under whose jurisdiction the Department of Information fells, agreed that “in principle this is not something the executive should be doing. But because there is an existing broadcasting contract [under the former administration’s licensing system] we have to fulfil our duty.

He told Minivan News at the time that the five point deduction out of a possible 100 amounted “to a symbolic gesture”.

The MJA meanwhile called on the government to withdraw the decision after viewing the report published by the Police Integrity Commission, and dissolve the Content Committee of the Department of Information.


14 thoughts on “IFJ alarmed at MJA claims of spike in hostility towards media”

  1. IFJ current president is an Indian know-it-all who is bribed and stays only in Villa resorts when in the maldives. they should do some research into the media freedoms prior to 2008. In the end, its another 'NGO' whose staff will be paid by sustaining 'issues' in the third world....

  2. This government came to power boasting press freedom. Sadly we are now back in pre 2007 times. Mohamed Nasheed Broadcasting Corp. Is run president's office. Government is getting less tolerant with any media that is critical with gov. Sounds familiar?

  3. Sorry guys..let me express the reality I know of! Perhaps Salim Waheed would be pissed off this time too for expressin the reality I see in Maldives Media.
    We have Maumoon Broadcasting Cooperation (MBC) mandated by DRP lead majlis to promote DRP core families and elite propaganda!
    Villa TV: Gasims Propaganda machine Good for nothing TV!
    Dhitv: Champa family TV channel to sustain their political interest visa v to sustain the curropt business they hold! Champa TV or Dhitv is haterd channel number 1! Even their news content is sold off to the highest bidder!
    MNBC: Haleel's job security channel and government (MDP) policy propagation! Does sometimes maintain balance and brings general public views!
    SunFM: Same as Villa TV and Dhitv or DhiFm..all well invested to protect Sun Travel Shiyam's interest!
    Atoll Radio: Religious FM, no party has control but DRP thugs and MDP hardcore try's fail attempts to control. Nazeef does a good job!
    Youth Channel: a channel broadcasted to distory Maldivian youth! No good!
    Haveeru: Zahir Hussain's deviant agenda machine!
    Minivan: pretends to be independent..but activly promotes secularism! But is still the best independent online news web!

    Now Salim Waheed..shout! tel me ur dad is blah blah..blah! Media is all good!

  4. our so called liberators have turned out to be oppressors.where are the people that attacked these organisations?what is the story behind these attacks?

  5. Well let's remind IFJ that TVM , the state media , the former government's propaganda machine, continue to be used so by the current government , albeit in another name...what a difference . Common , if something was bad , it doesn't matter who's in power ...whether they claim power through democracy or dictatorship ...what's wrong is wrong... the state media should be made independent

  6. I am all for media freedom. But some of the things I see from Villa TV and DhiTV are just outright lies and complete propaganda. They are sell outs who have no idea of independent journalism. Ofcourse that doesn't mean Adam Manik can go around confiscating cameras!

    Problems will always arise but we have to make sure people who are responsible are held accountable.

  7. The media in Maldives is not independent. Politicians (opposition) control it. They have no clue what journalism stands for.

  8. Oh Anni, things are getting from bad to worse. first the whole 'democracy thing' goes tits up, and now even your previous fellow journalist-comrades trying to diss you ? Oh dear. I think all Maldivians are also whispering about a small fact - you used to globetrot every week, now you look like you are in self-imposed exile in the Maldives - not sure whether you will have your throne if you leave the country ? We know you read these comments on this page, so why not join this discussion thread.....

  9. Well, some people says they are for media freedom, yet their democratic thinking doesn't allow to criticise current government's daily propaganda on MNBC. MNBC is public channel and we all pay for it. So it has to be totally balanced. Not just promoting government views and ignore the rest of the country. The other channels are privately owned. We don't pay for it. But yes they have an ethical responsibility to be balance.
    Is this too hard to get through the thick skulls of president's boys?

  10. "MEDIA" a clever tool misused by every one, be it Maldives or Where ever!

    Also journalists are not descended of GOD, and are susceptible to bribes, if not for favours such as staying at VILLAS with family and friends!

    Currently in the Maldives, it is rather difficult to judge which is which!

  11. VTV say whatever they want and now they say that their is no press freedom. Lying nutless monkeys. Moosa is pissed of at VTV like Obama is at FOX.


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