The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has said that it has decided to sue the Maldives Media Council (MMC) after the Auditor General’s report revealed that members took almost Rf 900,000 in additional allowances.
President of the ACC Hassan Luthfy confirmed to local media that suits will be filed against the MMC, one in the Civil Court and one in the Criminal Court for corruption.
Meanwhile, the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has called on the members to resign following the publication of the audit report.
In a statement, the MJA said that “this raise questions about the integrity of MMC which was established by the Parliament to regulate media. The MMC Act which was passed by the parliament clearly stipulates that no additional money other than wages shall be given to the council members for their work, unless it is approved by the Parliament.”
The MJA said the MMC Act required the council to comprise of eight members from the media and seven members from the public, but questioned the legitimacy of the council after noting that member from the public had been employed by the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) after he was appointed as a member.
“This has dropped the number of members representing public to six, and increased the number of members representing the media to nine,” the MJA said, asking parliament to probe the issue.
The MJA said it was unacceptable for the NGO to see an institution assigned to regulate the media breaching the laws and democratic principles.
“This primitive action by the MMC has tarnished the trust and dignity of the local media in front of the citizens,” the MJA said. “We are very concerned, as this may also damage the reputation of the Maldives media in front of international organisations, and may raise questions about the integrity of the sole media regulatory body in the country.”
The opposition joint parliamentary group has meanwhile told the media that next week they will submit a bill to parliament to dissolve the council and transfer its mandate to parliament’s Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
Spokesperson for the opposition parliamentary group, MP Ahmed Nazim, told newspaper Haveeru that the council had not been fulfilling its responsibility and noted that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has accused the council of corruption.
He said that the MMC’s initial refusal to obey the direction of the ACC and repay the money was also an issue.
President of the Maldives Media Council (MMC) Mohamed Nazeef did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.