The right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press is curbed in the Maldives as the Government introduced a new bill to consolidate absolute control of the media. The new bill titled “Maldives Media and Broadcasting Authority Act” would see the dissolution of the existing Maldives Media Council and the Broadcasting Commission and would see the formation of “Maldives Media and Broadcasting Authority” answerable only to the Parliament.
According to the new bill, the “Maldives Media and Broadcasting Authority” would be directed by 5 members chosen by the President, with the Parliament appointing and dismissing the members. Local “Vaguthu News” targeted its criticism at the bill as members of the media would have minimum representation in electing its governing body with the President and the ruling party acquiring absolute control in appointing the members mandated with oversight for all media broadcasted, published and printed in the Maldives.
Moreover the new “Maldives Media and Broadcasting Authority’s” right to suspend existing media’s is questioned as a new “Anti-Defamation Act” is introduced concurrently with the “Maldives Media and Broadcasting Authority Act”. “Anti-Defamation” laws have long since been a tool used to restrict freedom of media and freedom of expression.