Male’, Maldives – Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) today expressed concerns over the direct involvement of Parliament’s Independent Commission as a complainant and overseer in the Maldives Media Council (MMC) investigation of media regarding malicious content at the Indian High Commission.
MJA released a statement expressing concern that a parliament committee that has the power to summon and question members of MMC and even hold them accountable for their actions is being directly involved in an investigation that is being overseen by MMC.
The statement from MJA comes after Chairperson of Parliament’s Independent Commission, MP Rozaina Adam sent a letter to MMC requesting for an investigation over the issue of local media ‘Dhiyares’ for igniting the social media hatred through posts about diplomatic missions and diplomats against the Indian High Commission in Maldives.
MJA stated that there is a clear conflict of interest in this case as “the committee cannot act as a complainant and at the same time have the power to question and hold MMC accountable.” MJA highlighted that the MMC is legally required to investigate ethics violations impartially.
The decision of the Parliament’s Committee is likely to introduce political influences to the work of MMC.MJA
In the statement, MJA called on to the authorities to ensure that all the media regulatory bodies have freedom to act “impartially and without bias” in upholding the values of press freedom as directed by the Maldivian law and the MMC’s code of ethics as well.
MJA highlighted that he most important aspect of a media self-regulatory framework is the unwavering dedication of journalists, editors and media outlets, to uphold journalistic ethics and calls on journalists to renew their commitment to responsible journalism.
Along with MJA, MP or Villimale’ Constituency, Ahmed Usham also noted during today’s meeting with the Parliament’s Independent Commission and MMC members that the people in charge of foreign matters have certain guidelines to do things, MP Usham stated that it is a serious issue if the Parliament’s Committee is looking into complaints that come from ways other than diplomatic channels.
Former MP of Hithadhoo and Retired Brigadier General of MNDF, Ibrahim Mohamed Didi earlier also criticized MP of Addu Meedhoo constituency and Chairperson of Independent Commission, Rozaina Adam’s decision to call on an investigation without discussing is with the remaining committee members, concerning the issues raised by the Indian High Commission.
Retired Brigadier General of MNDF, Ibrahim Mohamed Didi stated that it is a saddening matter for the parliament to make a decision on something that was not decided by the committee. He said that the decision of Rozaina “shows signs of parliamentary dictatorship.”
Didi stated that for the Parliament to get involved in such a matter is like the Parliament getting involved in executive work.
However, MP Rozaina defended her decision by saying that sending official letters to independent associations without a committee decision was done several times previously as well, noting that the letter to MMC was sent under those guidelines. She also said that the matter is not being looked into because it is about a certain person or country, but because the Committee has always worked with Media Council in making media work responsibly.