Malé, Maldives – Maldives Journalist Association has condemned the decision by Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services today to fine Avas Online and issue warnings against One Online, Vaguthu and Adhadhu, over the alleged violation of child rights in their coverage of the murder of a 13-year-old boy in Malé City.
Following the ministry’s arbitrary decision to act as a media regulator by using the Child Rights Protection Act (Law 19/2009) to regulate the content of media outlets and taking punitive action against media outlets, MJA stated that the ministry’s decision will have an adverse impact on press freedom in the country.
MJA also stated that while there are institutions mandated with regulating the media’s that the ministry had taken the decision without any discussions with these bodies and took the action against the media outlets.
According to MJA, the ministry had not been in touch with the outlets ahead of taking action against them, depriving them of any opportunity to respond to any alleged violations before the government stepped in to take action against them.
The association also pointed out the government’s use of its powers to directly and unilaterally act as a media regulator, without following due process, including launching an investigation and offering media outlets the opportunity to respond to the complaints against them.
MJA also called on the government to repeal the actions taken against the media outlets and to stop any and all efforts, whether direct or indirect, to influence the media regulatory processes established in law.