Don’t turn back clock on journalists rights, Maldives urged


London : The Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) has urged the new authorities in the Maldives to respect the right of journalists to go about their work without fear of intimidation and in a safe and respectful atmosphere.

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“We expect nothing less from a Commonwealth member country that has undertaken to uphold Commonwealth values, especially as they relate to human rights and freedom of expression,” CJA said in a statement.

“CJA has developed valuable relationships with the Maldivian media over the last few years and while we remain neutral in matters of internal politics, we will not stay silent if our brothers and sisters in Commonwealth journalism are endangered,” the statement added.

Said CJA President Rita Payne: “I visited the Maldives in June (2011) and had the opportunity to meet a range of journalists there. It was apparent then that they were under pressure from media owners, political parties and powerful business interests. As CJA president, I urge the new authorities to protect journalists and create a climate where they will be able to report freely without fear of repercussion.”

“While the Maldives is in turmoil, we note with grave concern a statement by the Maldives Journalists Association that members of the media are being threatened and harassed over their reporting of the current political crisis. The association said that television stations are being penalised for airing oppositions politicians’ comments,” the statement said.

“The CJA will continue to closely monitor the situation in the Maldives and through our Commmonwealth network will do all in our power to defend the rights of Maldivian journalists. We will issue further bulletins as the situation unfolds,” the statement added.