MJA calls upon government to ensure safety of journalists

Reporters and journalists at a protest against the persecution of media and press in 2016. | Photo: Nasrulla Solih

Malé, Maldives – Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has called on the government to implement six measures to ensure the safety of journalists.

MJA revealed the 6 things in a a statement released to commemorate the 2022 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

The measures are:

1. Publicly, unequivocally, and systematically condemn violence and attacks – Government, political parties, and media regulatory bodies must respond to any violence against journalists, including sexual and gender-based discrimination and violence, by making unambiguous public statements that such violations will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be held accountable.

2. Impartial, prompt, thorough, independent, and effective investigations – Government and law enforcement authorities must ensure accountability for all violence, threats, and attacks against journalists through impartial, prompt, thorough, independent, and effective investigations. Such investigations should recognize and take seriously gender-specific attacks on women journalists.

3. Prosecute perpetrators – Government, law enforcement authorities, and the justice system must work together to bring perpetrators of crimes against journalists to justice. This includes those who command, conspire to commit, aid, and abet, or cover up such crimes.

4. Access to appropriate remedies – Government must ensure that appropriate remedies are available to victims of crimes against journalists and their families. This can include non-judicial remedies such as compensation, socio-economic support, and long-term psychosocial healthcare.

5. Protect rights online – Government must ensure that laws and rights that provide protection to journalists offline are applied equally online.

6. Advance safety of journalists – Media organizations and media regulatory bodies must advance the safety of journalists by providing trainings on safety, risk awareness, digital security, and self-protection. Media organizations must also provide protection against workplace harassment and discrimination for women journalists.

On the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, MJA President Ali Rifshan said that intimidation, insults and obstruction of journalists in various forms are still happening in Maldives and that not enough effort and priority is being given to stop them.

He said the actions against journalists have not been properly investigated and justice has not been provided and as a result, that journalists do not feel safe.

“There is a lot of work to be done in Maldives to ensure a safe environment for journalists. We call on the state institutions to work together to implement the six measures proposed by the MJA,” Rifshan said.

Their statement issued today also noted that the investigation into the murder of Maldives Independent’s journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdullah, who went missing in 2014, had made progress in the past few years. However, the fact that many of those accused of involvement in Rilwan’s disappearance have not been investigated is proof that a safe environment is not being ensured for journalists, the MJA said.

The association said the murder of blogger Yameen Rasheed in 2016 was not properly investigated and justice was not done. It also encourages the repetition of such dangerous crimes.