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Worries over growing pressures on media as political crisis continues in the Maldives

A supporter of Maldives presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed shouts slogans in front of a police officer during a protest in Male, after the presidential run-off election was called off, 27 September 2013
A supporter of Maldives presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed shouts slogans in front of a police officer during a protest in Male, after the presidential run-off election was called off, 27 September 2013

REUTERS/Stringer

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on the authorities in the Maldives to respect the right of the media to report freely and fairly on ongoing political developments in the country.

According to information received from the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA), an IFJ affiliate, media persons have been facing numerous problems in recent times, in particular while covering political protests organised by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The MDP led by former President Mohammad Nasheed, won the first round of presidential elections in the country early in September 2013. The second round involving the two top candidates from the first round was scheduled for September 28 before it was postponed by the Supreme Court of the Maldives on grounds of suspected irregularities in the first round ballots.

On the evening of September 27, the MJA reports, police arrested Mohammad Sajid, a photographer for the Haveeru daily, as he was covering a demonstration organised by the MDP. Sajid was charged with obstructing the police in the performance of its duties, a charge that Haveeru strongly denies.

The MJA has also alleged that personnel belonging to other news organisations came under attack during the MDP demonstrations.

"We strongly condemn these efforts to block and intimidate media persons doing their jobs", said the IFJ Asia Pacific.

"At this time of political transition, it is imperative that the public should have the unfettered right to access information on all relevant matters".

"That need is only served by allowing media persons in the Maldives the freedom to go about their jobs according to their best professional judgment".

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