IFJ releases South Asian “Press Freedom in Peril” report

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)‘s 2011 ‘Press Freedom in Peril‘ for South Asia has claimed there are “several matters of detail on which discord between journalists and the government is rife” in the Maldives.

The report, produced on behalf of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) of which the Maldives National Journalists’ Association (MJA) is a member, states that “going beyond the perception-based indexes of press freedom that have put Maldives among the most rapidly improving countries, there are certain difficulties that journalists in the nation continue to face, even if these are not reflected in the broad numerical indexes, which are admittedly of limited value.”

The reports claims that journalists covering opposition demonstrations in October 2010 were been “beaten with batons, some of them shackled and a number briefly detained,” with police claiming that this occurred because “some of the journalists covering the demonstration had started engaging them in a confrontational spirit.”

The report also noted the opposition party had blamed the alleged assaults on journalists on Parliamentary Group Leader of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), “who had, in the weeks preceding the event, made a number of public statements that suggested a deep antipathy towards the media.”

Manik referred to private TV channels in the Maldives as the fruit of ‘ill-gotten’ wealth and vowed to teach them a lesson,” the report claimed.

Subsequent findings from the Maldives Media Council (MMC) had “sought to be all things to all people, calling on journalists to follow a certain code of practice when covering events such as opposition led demonstrations, while at the same time, reprimanding the police for not giving adequate space for the media in their effort to record the protests.”

“Journalists needed to adhere to a certain standard of discipline, and the police needed to provide sufficient leeway for honest journalistic effort,” the report said, citing the MMC.

Attempts to devise a code of ethics and self-regulation for the country’s journalists by the MJA had been derailed by the state-owned media, the report claimed, “which was indifferent to this initiative, [and] which has rendered the code inoperative.”

The report noted a protest in October where four journalists from the private radio station DhiFM “were compelled to undertake a protest against their own employer when it turned out that the management had revealed the identity of a source used for a report on a tourist resort.”

“Irked by the content of the report, the resort management sacked the employee. The journalists who protested against their management’s unethical decision to reveal the identity of a news source, were in turn fired,” the report noted.

The report also highlighted the arrest of two Haveeru journalists in February 2011 “for interrogation” over leaked pornographic videos obtained from a Facebook blackmailing ring, which reportedly included material involved known public figures, and police efforts to obtain a warrant to search the newspaper’s offices, which was not executed.

A consistent concern throughout the year was the government’s decision to remove all government advertising from the media and publish an official gazette, depriving the industry of income, the report noted.

“By limiting the visibility of government advertisements, it has led to fears of bid-rigging and corruption in the award of official contracts. It has also caused considerable financial distress to the independent media,” the report stated.

The Miadhu newspaper had been compelled to move offices as a result of the decision, it claimed.

Read the full report: Free Speech in Peril: Press Freedom in South Asia 2010-11


3 thoughts on “IFJ releases South Asian “Press Freedom in Peril” report”

  1. Everybody knows the media in Maldives are mouth pieces of their respective patrons. For example, to get any news on TV, one would have to watch at least two of the 3 channels. All 3 channels are guilty of partisanship. The worst are the "special reports" which are usually opinion pieces with strategically placed facts and a few lies by omission.

    The biggest losers are the people, who choose channels depending on their political affiliation. They listen to "news" which is conforming to their pre-defined beliefs.

    If media reported objectively they would gain respect and the confidence of everyone, not to mention a higher viewership. The media would then be able to fulfill the role of true "zimmadaaru kurun".

    Our TV channels have to take a lot more responsibility for the partisan politics we have.

  2. Maldives Media: Hiriga Zahir, Masood, Ameen, Midhath, Imad Latheef, etc. are people who worked to maintain the status quo of the Maumoon regime. In other words, virtually all media workers in Maldives are not independent from, and are in the pay of, people who had suffered humiliating defeat against the government of the day. Namely, Gasim, Sun Travel Shiyam, Champa Brothers, Zahir Hussain, Abbas Ibrahim. Even Ahmed Abdulla worked to prevent MDP coming to power. Also these people are not independent from the views they have made known. That President Nasheed was a rag-bag vagabond running in the streets with his slippers in his hands, that he was a petty thief, who abused drugs and alcohol, working to introduce other religions. How can the very same people say anything positive now that the so called rag-bags are in government?? The best they could do was to imply that the President was stalking IGMH with a blunt hack saw,.... God bless these souls.

  3. Discord between journalists and government? bollocks. The government cannot be happier as here's the vision of Maldives that these journalists have given out: As you walk the beach road you come to the main garbage dumps, and there seems to be riot going on: here there are Maldives throwing their Holy Books on the rubbish dump. Over their heads, Frisbee style and some even taking jump kicks. You walk over on to the water-front coming to the other side, and lo and behold! The government is releasing hardened criminals and gangsters by the dozens, just so as to harass and monger fear and disrupt the lives of public officials and others who have spotless characters, never having indulged in any crimes of any sort the past 30 years. A little down the road, government officials are overseeing the hectic activity of selling off state assets. One board advertises jobs for divers, to slip iron chains underneath Hulhule so that it can be airlifted off the Maldives. You find all this flabbergasting and walk into a government Office. For some strange reason, every office who stands to greet you is pulling up his trousers from around the knees. You stumble out and my heavens: islanders are swarming over the breakwaters, arriving in the thousands for tonight's Chandanee Square revolution, hungry and angry, they want to overthrow, torture and kill Nasheed at the Jumhooree Maidhaan, and a smiling youthful Gayoom, after botox treatment will arrive to hand over power to Mundhoodh Sharee, Mahlouf and Umar Naseer. Meanwhile, as you go inland you run into people crawling on the streets, begging for food as soaring prices have brought out people starving and suffering in their last desperate and feeble attempts of survival, and alarmingly they have begun eating each other's faeces. Thank you Maldives Media. Thank you oh so much, IFJ, for getting the right picture.


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