IFJ: Journalistic challenges in Maldives despite state commitment to press freedom

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says the field of journalism in the Maldives faces obvious challenges despite the government’s commitment to press freedom.

The federation released a statement highlighting its findings during a week-long trip to the Maldives. During the trip, the members of the federation had surveyed the journalistic field and its various issues.

The IFJ said it found several obstacles that would hamper independent journalism in the island nation. During the IFJ team’s meeting with local law enforcement authorities, lawyers and local media editors, they raised concerns about the latest change in Maldivian law on the evidence.

The federation team had also identified the importance of tackling “Shell Media Companies” used exclusively for political propaganda. The IFJ advises that these entities be investigated and action taken.

Furthermore, the IFJ has also asserted that the inclusion of all registered media in the election of members of the Maldives Media Council will reinforce biased results.

The IFJ and the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) have supported restricting the participation of only active media in the MMC elections, which are currently open for nominations.

The IFJ is also concerned about several other issues related to Maldives media and journalism. Which includes;

– Appointment of politicians or political activists in both Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Public Service Media (PSM) will enhance opportunities for political influence on institutions

– Lack of opportunities for professional training and awareness of media rights and responsibilities

– Accreditation challenges for freelance journalists

– Tradition of no impunity for perpetrators of offenses against journalists and alarming increase in the influence of religious radicals who endanger journalistic diversity

– Delays in obtaining information from government institutions and ministries

– Loss of journalists’ rights due to the tradition of pay deductions

In addition to this, the IFJ stressed the importance of establishing a system to enforce the protection of media and journalism rights. The federation understands that the legal applicability of such a system will reinforce the ethical integrity and professionalism of the field.

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