Media council quashes notices to local media over defamation

Maldives Media Council's President Mueed (L) and his deputy Abeer at a press conference. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/MIHAARU

Maldives Media Council’s President Mueed (L) and his deputy Abeer at a press conference. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/MIHAARU

Maldives Media Council (MMC) has decided to nullify the notices issued to several major local media Monday ordering to be held accountable for publishing content that allegedly defamed First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim.

Members of MMC stated that the media outlets will be officially informed of the cases’ invalidation on Tuesday.

The cases were filed at MMC against Mihaaru, RaajjeMV, VFP, Vaguthu and Maldives Independent, under the name of the Chief Communications Officer of the President’s Office last March 17. MMC on Monday ordered the online media and their accused journalists to respond to the cases in writing before June 1. However, the President’s Office has denied filing any motions against any media outlets or journalists at the MMC.

In a statement released late Monday, the council declared that it issued letters to the accused media outlets based on documents sent to MMC from the email address of the then Chief Communications Officer of the President’s Office. The council stated that it notified the accused media to provide the opportunity to respond to the issues.

However, MMC confirmed in its statement that the President’s Office on Monday informed the council in writing that the Office has never filed for motions against any media outlets.

The cases were filed under the Defamation and Freedom of Speech Act which was passed by the parliament and came into effect last year. The Act condemns the publication of defamatory content and authorises Maldives Broadcasting Commission to take legal action against any media that broadcasts such content, and Maldives Media Council against any media that publishes such content.

Maldives Broadcasting Commission previously fined Raajje TV twice under this Act. Raajje TV settled both penalties with generous funds and aid from the public.

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