The Maldives Media Council (MMC) has called on journalists to follow their code of ethics when covering events such as the opposition-led protest on October 25 last year, in which police clashed with reporters.
Journalists did not adhere to the standards of discipline required of their position while covering the event, the MMC said.
The MMC issued the statement following the release of an investigation report into incident, in which the Council alleged that the police commander who managed the riot that evening may not have given adequate opportunity for the media to cover the event.
Three journalists from DhiTV, two journalists from VillaTV, one from newspaper Miadhu and a photographer from Haveeru reported they were attacked by the police. The two journalists from VillaTV were also arrested, handcuffed, and released the same evening.
Editor of DhiTV Midhath Hilmy claimed that one of his reporters was hit in the head with a tear gas canister, while another was hit with a police baton.
The MMC stated that police had planned that evening not to let any person enter the area, and did not provided an exemption for the media.
“According to video footage, pictures and audio clips as well as the statements of journalists who covered the riot, the council have noted that police have acted very strictly towards the media.”
Eight journalists from different media organisations were physically injured during the clash and underwent medical treatment. The MMC confirmed that there was “some truth” to the allegations made by media personnels regarding their harsh treatment at the hand of police, including the use of pepper spray.
Furthermore, the council said, police took strict measures to obstruct journalists from covering the event, undermining the freedom given them by the Constitution.
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that police would respond to the allegations later.
Police have previously stated that the crackdown on the media corp was prompted when several members of the press “began behaving like opposition activists.”