Maldives jumps to 72nd rank in World Press Freedom Index

Journalists and reporters protested over police brutality towards the media on February 21, 2021. | Photo via Sun.

Malé, Maldives – Maldives has jumped from 120th in 2018 to 72nd rank in Reporters without Borders, 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

According to the statement by Reporters without Borders, the current President of Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih pledged to repeal 2016 defamation law, and fight against impunity.

President Solih ratified the bill to repeal the Freedom of Speech and Defamation Act on 22 November 2018. While the parliament passed the bill within the tenure of former President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, the motion was filed post-election and the incumbent president ratified the bill.

While the defamation law re-criminalised defamation in the Maldives was repealed in 2018, the police continue to use physical violence against journalists covering demonstrations.

The investigations into the disappearance of the journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla in August 2014 and the fatal stabbing of the blogger Yameen Rasheed in April 2017 have advanced significantly even though they have yet to yield a satisfactory result.

Maldives is also a member of the Media Freedom Coalition co-chaired by Canada & the UK.

Norway is ranked first in the Index for the fifth year running, while Finland maintained its position in second place. Meanwhile, Sweden recovered its third place ranking beating Denmark.

China is at the bottom of the rankings, as the country continues to take Internet censorship, surveillance and propaganda to unprecedented levels. The same trio of totalitarian countries that have historically occupied the bottom three places maintain their ranks. Two are Asian countries; Turkmenistan and North Korea.

Eritrea holds the bottom place in the ranking while maintaining complete silence about the fate of 11 journalists arrested 20 years ago, some of whom have allegedly been held in metal cages in the middle of a desert.