transparency-md.1

PRESS RELEASE – April 13, 2017

Transparency Maldives (TM) will observe the upcoming local council elections currently scheduled to be held on 6 May 2017. The key objective of this observation will be to understand the challenges facing the electoral system, identify issues in the larger electoral environment and to provide meaningful recommendations to address electoral issues in the Maldives.

Approximately 25 registered observers will support our election day observation. In addition to election day observation, TM also will monitor the run up to the election and the larger electoral environment. In this regard, TM has consulted relevant stakeholders including the Elections Commission and political parties, with further consultations due over the next few weeks.

Based on past election observation findings, Transparency Maldives notes two key trends in Maldivian elections:

  1. Voting day processes are generally well administered and fair.
  2. Issues such as vote buying, misuse of state resources, intimidation of political opponents and undue restriction of space for political activity tend to take place in the run up to the election.

Based on this, Transparency Maldives will focus on the following aspects in our observation of the local council election:

  1. The electoral environment of Maldives.
  2. The electoral legal framework.
  3. Election day proceedings.

We note with concern that the local council election will be held against a backdrop of concerning level of repression of civil and political liberties in the country. Political persecution is at an all time high with all opposition political leaders currently in prison, under some form of detention or operating out of the country, in exile.

The introduction of a host of laws and regulations that undermine and counter democratic norms and freedoms has put serious constraints on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. The newly enacted Protection of Reputation and Freedom of Expression Act, has criminalized defamation and undermined press freedom in the country, and the amendment to the Freedom of Assembly Act has placed serious constraints on political activity. Right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the freedom of expression are prerequisites for a free and fair election and are necessary to ensure a campaigning environment, free of intimidation and undue influence.

As of now the election day has been delayed thrice, citing various reasons. Internal conflict within the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) led to a civil suit which consequently postponed the initial date (14 January 2017) scheduled for voting. We also note that repeated election delays have created a tradition of undermining legal and constitutional deadlines set for elections. Such actions contravene democratic principles and undermine the integrity of elections.

In the coming days, Transparency Maldives will continue to publicise information of its election observation. On election day we will hold a press conference after voting concludes to share our observations with the public. A final election report will be published following the election.

END

You can view/download press statement here in English and in Dhivehi

transparency-md.1

PRESS RELEASE – April 06, 2017

A pluralistic political environment that allows for political dissent is one of the most fundamental prerequisites for a democratic society. Article 30 of the Maldivian Constitution unambiguously embodies this right for all Maldivians. However, today we are witnessing the intimidation of political opponents using state institutions, either through criminal investigations or state imposed fines. More disturbingly these measures against political leaders coincide with political fallout with government. The fact that that all opposition party leaders are either currently in jail, in exile or under arrest is a testament to authoritarian reversal the country is experiencing.

Transparency Maldives strongly condemns and is concerned by the intimidation of political opponents and those critical of the government by state institutions and the curtailing of the fundamental right to hold differing political opinions and ideas. Despite Article 17 of the Constitution disallowing discrimination based on “political thought”, we are witnessing political opponents facing unfair reprisals as a result of their political views. Holding dissenting political opinion has become a dangerous prospect in the country.

Transparency Maldives urges the government to find an amicable solution to the current political impasse and to work sincerely to ensure that the upcoming presidential election is free, fair and competitive. We call on the government to work with sincerity to bring back the country to the path of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights.

ENDS

You can view/download press statement here in Dhivehi and in English.

transparency-md.1

PRESS RELEASE – January 25, 2017

The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) – an annual survey by Transparency International that scores and ranks countries based on the perceived level of corruption in that country – was released today by Transparency International.

The last time in which the Maldives was included in the CPI was in 2011. The CPI is calculated using a composite assessment consisting of a minimum of 3 separate sources. Between 2012 and 2016 the lack of three separate sources to triangulate information for the CPI has precluded the Maldives’ inclusion.

On a scale of 1-100 with 100 indicating that the country is perceived to be corruption free and 0 indicating that the country is perceived to be highly corrupt, the Maldives scores low at only 36 indicating that corruption remains an urgent concern within the country. Out of a total of 176 countries the Maldives is ranked 95.

This accords with the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer surveys which yielded that the Maldivian public is extremely skeptical regarding the integrity of individual institutions, including the Parliament, Judiciary and Executive and furthermore are concerned about the high level of corruption that pervade the entire state.     

This is the first time the Maldives has been included in the CPI since the methodology used to calculate the CPI was updated in 2012. Because of the update in the methodology CPI scores before 2012 are not comparable over time. Hence the Maldives’ score in 2016 is not comparable to its score and rank in 2011. Furthermore, CPI is a relative scale and thus stark deteriorations in corruption perceptions of other countries – which will improve our ranking automatically – does not correspond with an improvement in the Maldives’ level of corruption. It is also important to note that fewer countries have been included in 2016 in comparison to 2011.

In comparison to other South Asian countries, Maldives ranks identically to Sri Lanka whilst Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan are ranked lower than the Maldives. Conversely, India and Bhutan are ranked higher than the Maldives.

At a time when massive corruption scandals including the MMPRC grand corruption case are still fresh in public memory and remain unanswered, it is imperative that we increase our efforts to combat corruption and hold the Government and state institutions accountable.

METHODOLOGY

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index has been published since 1995. The CPI draws on data sources from 13 different studies by 12 international institutions specializing in governance and business climate analysis for 176 countries, and reflects the opinions of experts, civil society organizations, and business people on public sector corruption. The Index has a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean) in order to rank the countries.
This year, Maldives’ score was identified by the contents and results from 3 international surveys: Global Insight Country Risk Ratings; World Bank – Country Policy and Institutional Assessment; and Varieties of Democracy Project.

You can view/download press statement here

transparency-md.1

Transparency International and Transparency Maldives welcome the release of whistleblower Gasim Abdul Kareem from prison but are disappointed that the prosecution and sentencing went forward this week. They now call for him to be exonerated.

“Kareem should be exonerated and praised not punished. He disclosed information that is critical for exposing corruption. The sentencing means he will have a criminal record that will make his future employment difficult,” said Cobus de Swardt, managing director of Transparency International. “Kareem is an anti-corruption hero.”

Kareem was sentenced on 15 November to eight months and 12 days in prison. He was released on 17 November as he had already spent the required amount of time in detention. Kareem was dismissed from employment in February, spent 133 days in Dhoonidhoo Prison, and spent 138 days under house arrest.

Kareem’s sentencing came amidst calls by the public and local and international organisations, including the New York City Bar Association, urging the Prosecutor General of the Maldives to dismiss the case against him.

Kareem should never have stood trial in the first place. His disclosure of account transactions of a private company that was used to reroute embezzled money relating to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal in the Maldives was in the public interest.

Kareem is also one of the four anti-corruption heroes shortlisted for Transparency International’s 2016 Anti-Corruption Award.

Whistleblowers play a critical role in exposing corruption and other wrongdoings. They should not be subjected to any form of retaliation as a result of exposing wrongdoings or corrupt behaviour.

“The sentencing of Kareem sends the message that whistleblowers in the Maldives will not be protected nor commended. They will, instead, pay a high price while those alleged of wrongdoing will continue to engage in corrupt behaviour with absolute impunity,” said Thoriq Hamid, programme manager of Transparency Maldives.

Transparency Maldives and Transparency International are calling for an effective whistleblower protection system in the Maldives.

Press contact(s):

Press Office, Berlin
T: +49 30 34 38 20 666
E: press@transparency.org
M: +44 7432166622
In Male
Ahid Rasheed
T: +960 3304017
E: ahid.rasheed@transparencymaldives.org
M: +960 9741443

 

View press release here

transparency-md.1

ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގައި ކޮރަޕްޝަނަށް ތުހުމަތު ކުރެވޭގޮތަށް ހިންގުނު އެތައްމިލިއަން ޑޮލަރެއްގެ ފައިސާގެ މުއާމަލާތްތަކާގުޅޭ ބެންކު ތަފުސީލުތަކެއް ހާމަކޮށްލި ވިސްލްބްލޯވަރު ގާސިމް އަބުދުލްކަރީމުގެ މައްޗަށް ދައުވާކޮށް ހުކުމްކުރުމާއިމެދު ޓްރާންސްޕޭރަންސީ މޯލްޑިވްސް އިން އިންތިހާއަށް ކަންބޮޑުވެއެވެ.

ގާސިމުގެ މައްޗަށް ހުކުމް ކުރެވިފައިވަނީ އެކަމާއި ދޮކޮޅަށް އާންމުންނާއި ދިވެހިރާއްޖެއާއި ބައިނަލްއަގުވާމީ ޖަމާއަތްތަކުން އަޑުއުފުލަމުންދިޔަ ދަނޑިވަޅެއްގައެވެ. މިގޮތުން ނިއުޔޯކް ބާ އެސޯސިއޭޝަނުންވަނީ، ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގެ ޕްރޮސަކިއުޓަރ ޖެނެރަލްއަށް، މި މައްސަލަ ދޫކޮށްލުމަށް އިލްތިމާސް ކޮށްފައެވެ. އަދި މިހުކުމް އިއްވާފައިވަނީ ޓްރާންސްޕޭރަންސީ އިންޓާނޭޝަނަލް އިން، ބައިނަލްއަގުވާމީ އެންޓި-ކޮރަޕްޝަން އެވާޑަށް ގާސިމުގެ ނަން ހުށަހެޅި ދުވަހުގެ ފަހުދުވަހެވެ.

ވިސްލްބްލޯވަރުންނަކީ ކޮރަޕްޝަނާއި އެނޫންވެސް ނޭއްގާނި އަމަލުތައް ފަޅާއެރުވުމުގައި އިސްދައުރެއް އަދާކުރާ ބައެކެވެ. އެފަދަ ނޭއްގާނި އަމަލުތައް ފަޅާއެރުވުމާ ގުޅިގެން ވިސްލްބްލޯވަރަކަށް އަދަބެއް ދިނުމަކީ ކުރެވިގެންވާނެ ކަމެއްނޫނެވެ. ނަމަވެސް ގާސިމުވަނީ ވަޒީފާއިން ވަކިކުރެވި، 133 ދުވަހު ދޫނިދޫގައި ހައްޔަރުކުރެވި، 138 ދުވަސް ގޭބަންދުގައި ބެހެއްޓިފައެވެ. އަދި މިއަދު ގާސިމުގެ މައްޗަށް އިއްވުނީ 8 މަހާއި 12 ދުވަހުގެ ޖަލުހުކުމެކެވެ

މި ހުކުމުގެ ސަބަބުން ދޭހަވެގެންދަނީ ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގައި ވިސްލްބްލޯވަރުންނަށް ރައްކާތެރިކަމެއް ނެތްކަމެވެ. އަދި އެފަދަމީހުންނަށް ގަދަރު ނުކުރާކަމާއި ބަލައިނުގަންނަކަމެވެ. މީގެއިތުރުން، ވިސްލްބްލޯވަރުންނަށް އަދަބުލިބި، ނޭއްގާނި އަމަލު ހިންގި މީހުން، އެމީހުންގެ ކޮރަޕްޝަންގެ އަމަލުތަކާއިގެން ކުރިއަށް ދިޔުމަށް އެއްވެސް ހުރަހެއް ބިރުވެރިކަމެއްނެތި މަގުފަހިވެގެންދިޔަތަނެވެ.

ޓްރާންސްޕޭރަންސީ މޯލްޑިވްސް އިން ގަބޫލުކުރާ ގޮތުގައި ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގައި ވިސްލްބްލޯވަރުން ރައްކާތެރިކުރެވޭނެ ހަރުދަނާ ނިޒާމެއް ވަގުތުންވަގުތަށް ބޭނުންވެއެވެ.

 View the press statement here

transparency-md.1

Transparency International and Transparency Maldives call on the Prosecutor General of the Maldives to stop the process of sentencing Gasim Abdul Kareem, the whistleblower who disclosed customer information that revealed details related to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal in the Maldives. The sentencing is set for 15 November.

The case should be dismissed because the information disclosed is not only in the public interest but such disclosures are protected under the Maldives Banking Act. It relates to money that should have gone to the state but was allegedly siphoned off into private accounts.

Whistleblowers play a critical role in exposing corruption and other wrongdoings. They should not be subjected to any form of retaliation as a result of exposing wrongdoings or corrupt behaviour.

On 4 September Transparency International and Transparency Maldives issued the following statement when Kareem was in court:

“Kareem is a man who has taken action against what he believed to be a corrupt practice. This behaviour should be praised not punished. If money that should be used to benefit the people of the Maldives – to fund public services, for example –  is being siphoned off to fund the luxury lifestyle of the corrupt, the people have a right to know,” said Cobus de Swardt, managing director of Transparency International. “The prosecutor general should dismiss this case. Kareem’s actions deserve admiration and he is entitled to protection, not prosecution.”

“This is a test case for the Maldives and its whistleblower protection laws. The questionable financial transactions revealed from Kareem’s actions should have raised alarm bells a long time ago and yet no one had the courage to do what Kareem did. Instead of encouraging whistleblowing, Kareem’s persecution simply sends a signal to others who witness corruption that speaking out has severe consequences,” said Mariyam Shiuna, Executive Director of Transparency Maldives.

Under Section 44 of the Maldives Banking Act “actions taken in good faith in the course of the implementation of measure for the prevention of corruption and countering money laundering and financing of terrorism pursuant to laws or regulations dealing with such matters” cannot be considered unlawful.

Kareem was arrested on 18 February. He was held without a charge for over 4 months, and his detention extended 14 times until 30 June 2016 when he was released under house arrest.

The case is linked to a complex multi-million dollar grand corruption scandal that has involved the selling and leasing of islands and lagoons for tourism and is linked to former and current public officials.

On 1 September the president of the New York City Bar John S. Kiernan wrote to the prosecutor general on Kareem’s behalf pointing out the protections that whistleblowers are entitled to protection under law in the Maldives.

Press contact(s):

Press Office, Berlin
T: +49 30 34 38 20 666
E: press@transparency.org
M: +44 7432166622
In Male
Ahid Rasheed
T: +960 3304017
E: ahid.rasheed@transparencymaldives.org
M: +960 9741443

transparency-md.1

PRESS STATEMENT: October 15, 2016

Transparency Maldives (TM) is deeply disappointed by the Maldivian government’s decision to leave the Commonwealth on 13 October 2016. The Commonwealth has been an intrinsic part of the country’s political, economic and social development since 1982 and an ardent advocate for democracy in the Maldives. To withdraw from the Commonwealth without any public consultation and in response to the Commonwealth’s attempts to hold the government accountable, demonstrates disregard for public opinion in matters that directly impact the people, and the government’s inability to live up to the inherent principles of good governance, democracy and human rights enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter.

The timing of this decision also raises a number of questions about the government’s motives for leaving the Commonwealth. It comes at a critical juncture when the country is on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) Agenda with clear and straightforward recommendations to improve the gradually eroding democratic principles and the derogation from human rights standards in the Maldives. While the recently planned all party talks supported by the Commonwealth and the UN saw some hope for political reconciliation, the government’s decision has certainly impeded that very crucial process the Maldives needs for the upcoming Presidential Elections in 2018. The hope for a free and fair election hinges on political stability, State accountability and public trust that is greatly lacking in the country at the moment. The present move takes that process on an entirely different trajectory; one that forces international support and commitment towards the installation of democratic values to be misconstrued as encroachments onto the sovereignty of the Maldives.

The most recent statement from the CMAG identified several reasons for including Maldives in its formal agenda. There was also a sense of hope that things can and must improve. However, it is disheartening to realize that one of the oldest partners in development of democracy and human rights in the Maldives will no longer be able to play a role in the country’s future, despite an overwhelming public outcry against the decision to withdraw.

TM calls on the Maldivian government to immediately reconsider this hasty and detrimental decision and to consider public opinion in this issue.  TM also notes that withdrawal from the Commonwealth will not bring an end to the criticism and concerns raised by civil society, media, political parties and the international community. Only by genuine political will, reconciliation and respect for local and international democratic principles will there be an end to local and international scrutiny.

Finally,  TM urge the government not to jeopardize and undermine the Maldives’ standing internationally. Just as the present generation has benefitted from the countless opportunities and partnership facilitated by the Commonwealth, it is reprehensible to deprive the future generations from similar opportunities by leaving the Commonwealth.

ENDS

View/Download press statement here

transparency-md.1

ކިތަންމެ ފުރިހަމަ ގާނޫނެއް އޮތްކަމުގައިވީނަމަވެސް އެގާނޫނުގެ ބޭނުން އެންމެ ރަނގަޅުގޮތުގައި ރައްޔިތުންނަށް ހިފޭނީ ގާނޫން ތަންފީޒުކުރުމުގައި ގާނޫނުގެ ރޫހާއި އެއްގޮތަށް އަމަލުކޮށްގެން

View/Download the press release in Dhivehi

gasim_fb_english_3

On 18 February 2016 Gasim Abdul Kareem, Manager at Bank of Maldives Nilandhoo Branch, was arrested by Maldives Police Service for leaking detailed bank statements of a private company, SOF Pvt. Ltd., that is in the midst of one of the biggest cases of grand corruption, money laundering, embezzlement and abuse of power the country has ever seen.

The leaked documents revealed how SOF bank accounts were used to siphon off millions of dollars embezzled from Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company (MMPRC) – a state company set up to promote Maldives as a tourism destination.

The issue was first flagged in an audit report published in 2014 by the then Auditor General, Niyaz Ibrahim. The report revealed that a staggering USD 6 million had been embezzled from MMPRC by the then Tourism Minister, Ahmed Adeeb, and the Managing Director of the Company, Abdulla Ziyath. In his report, Niyaz recommended a thorough investigation to hold those responsible to account.

His report was ignored by investigative authorities and instead he was summarily dismissed from his position as the Auditor General, by a government majority controlled parliament. It appeared that the government had been successful in quashing any further inquiry into MMPRC corruption.

Ironically, the issue was dug up by the government following an explosion on the presidential speedboat, for which Adeeb, by then the Vice President of Maldives, was named the primary suspect. Adeeb and Ziyath were promptly arrested. Following the incident, President Yameen addressed the nation and narrated a story of corruption, nepotism and abuse of power orchestrated by his former right-hand man, Adeeb.

This finally forced investigative authorities, including the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), into action. The new Auditor General published a second audit report stating that over USD 79.37 million had been embezzled from the state coffers. The ACC launched its own investigation, which is still ongoing.

Who is Gasim? What did he do?

Four years ago Gasim Abdul Kareem, a native of Naifaru and a father of three, was hired by Bank of Maldives to manage their branch in Rasdhoo. Since then he has also worked as the manager in Kulhudhuffushi branch and more recently, in the Nilandhoo branch where he discovered questionable financial transactions made by SOF Pvt. Ltd.

Instead of taking his discovery to the seniors at the bank or reporting to relevant state authorities, Gasim chose to email the documents to some 500 bank staff and a further 99 people – for which he was sacked, arrested, and eventually charged with unauthorised disclosure of private information.

Since his arrest on 18 February 2016, there have been many opinions about Gasim, his motives and interests. The state considers him a criminal. Others view him as a whistleblower who exposed corruption involving powerful people, for which he is being unfairly targeted and persecuted by the state. For the most part, his case has been ignored by a desensitised public driven to exhaustion by the continuous targeting of individuals even slightly critical of the state.

Whistleblower or criminal?

The state wants Gasim to be seen not as a whistleblower but as someone who violated privacy by revealing confidential information. But does that argument really hold water?

A whistleblower is someone who exposes a wrongdoing—for example, corruption or money laundering—at work, and does so in the interest of the public and not for any personal benefit. According to Article 232(b) of the Penal Code, any good faith disclosure of private information for the purpose of exposing a wrongdoing is not an offence.

Gasim, by exposing a clear case of corruption, gained no monetary benefit nor was he expecting to acquire political or institutional power and therefore acted in good faith. This makes Gasim a whistleblower and the state has a responsibility to ensure his protection.

However, the state has decided to prosecute Gasim as a criminal, under Article 232 (Unlawful Acquisition of Information) and Section 233 (Unlawful Disclosure of Information) of the Penal Code. The reason for this becomes clear when we look at what has been revealed so far about the MMPRC scandal.

The latest audit report states that a total of USD 79.37 million was embezzled through MMPRC, and of this, USD 70.17 million was deposited into the bank account of SOF Pvt. Ltd. Mohamed Allam Latheef ‘Moho’, owner of SOF Pvt. Ltd, later said the money was distributed to the first couple, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, and other senior politicians.

Analysis of bank statements leaked by Gasim show that large amounts of money, in some cases, ranging from USD 10,000 to 500,000 was credited to various private accounts in different banks in the Maldives. One such account was reportedly that of President Yameen at Maldives Islamic Bank.

The audit report stated that embezzled money was deposited into SOF accounts but stopped short of stating where this money was routed to through these accounts. Gasim filled in those essential gaps through his disclosures.

One point that the state has been eager to emphasise is that Gasim did not share the information to competent state authorities: why did Gasim go straight to the public instead of reporting to the police, Anti-Corruption-Commission, or the judiciary, if he was so concerned about corruption and money laundering?

Making even a cursory effort to understand Gasim’s actions through his perspective reveals a dilemma. He had witnessed the state’s pattern of response towards individuals who dared to associate them with corruption. Consider how the former Auditor General was removed from office for bringing this issue to the spotlight in 2014. It was clear that the systems put in place to stop corruption was not working.

Consider also how the arrest and subsequent investigation of the then Vice President Ahmed Adeeb revealed the compromised nature of all key watchdog state institutions. One cannot be blamed if Gasim had little faith in law enforcement agencies, as it was the President who stated that law enforcement agencies were corrupted and that Adeeb routinely bought influence from the police.

As for the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Chair of the Commission just a few short months back accepted a luxury flat gifted to him by the President’s Economic Council, which is co-chaired by the President and the then Vice President, Adeeb.

Therefore, it is not all that surprising that Gasim chose to bypass state institutions and go straight to the public.

Drop the case

Gasim should be praised and protected, not punished, for taking action against corruption. The public have a right to know when public funds are being embezzled to enrich a powerful few that always seem to be above the law.

To prosecute Gasim sends the message that protecting the privacy of individuals who engage in corruption on a grand scale is more important than protecting whistleblowers who expose their corruption.

The state must drop the case against Gasim Abdul Kareem.

#DropTheCase


Download this article here.

For updates on Gasim’s case please visit: http://dropthecase.transparencymaldives.org/

transparency-md.1

PRESS RELEASE – September 04, 2016

Gasim Abdul Kareem, a former manager at the Bank of Maldives, is being prosecuted for disclosing customer information that revealed details related to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal in the Maldives, where money that should have gone to the state was allegedly siphoned off into private accounts.

Transparency International and Transparency Maldives are calling on the Prosecutor General to dismiss the case because the information disclosed is not only in the public interest, but such disclosures are protected under the Maldives Banking Act.

“Kareem is a man who has taken action against what he believed to be a corrupt practice. This behaviour should be praised not punished. If money that should be used to benefit the people of the Maldives – to fund public services, for example –  is being siphoned off to fund the luxury lifestyle of the corrupt, the people have a right to know,” said Cobus de Swardt, managing director of Transparency International. “The prosecutor general should dismiss this case. Kareem’s actions deserve admiration and he is entitled to protection, not prosecution.”

“This is a test case for the Maldives and its whistleblower protection laws. The questionable financial transactions revealed from Kareem’s actions should have raised alarm bells a long time ago and yet no one had the courage to do what Kareem did. Instead of encouraging whistleblowing, Kareem’s persecution simply sends a signal to others who witness corruption that speaking out has severe consequences,” said Mariyam Shiuna, Executive Director of Transparency Maldives.

Under Section 44 of the Maldives Banking Act “actions taken in good faith in the course of the implementation of measure for the prevention of corruption and countering money laundering and financing of terrorism pursuant to laws or regulations dealing with such matters” cannot be considered unlawful.

Kareem was arrested on 18 February. He was held without a charge for over 4 months, and his detention extended 14 times until 30 June 2016 when he was released under house arrest.

The case is linked to a complex multi-million dollar grand corruption scandal that has involved the selling and leasing of islands and lagoons for tourism and is linked to former and current public officials.

On 1 September the president of the New York City Bar John S. Kiernan wrote to the prosecutor general on Kareem’s behalf pointing out the protections that whistleblowers are entitled to protection under law in the Maldives.

ENDS

View/download the press release in English.

transparency-md.1

PRESS RELEASE – August 09, 2016

Transparency Maldives (TM) strongly condemns the passing of the Anti Defamation and Freedom of Expression Act without addressing the serious concerns raised and amendments suggested by media organisations, Maldives Media Council, journalists, political parties, civil society organisations, and international actors. The new provisions that were included in the Act were not opened for public review and restricts freedom of expression even further.

The new Anti Defamation Act now compels journalists to reveal their sources to prove the veracity of their published articles, news reports or comments. Article 18(c) of the Act clearly contravenes Article 28 of the Constitution that offers complete protection to journalists from having to reveal their sources under any circumstance. TM notes that the Constitution proactively refrains from including any enabling provisions which may curtail that right.

Article 33(a) of the Act allows for media licenses to be cancelled in addition to the criminal liability faced by specific journalists. Similarly, Article 36 gives way to disrupt the functioning of any particular media during a live event and compels the determination of the broadcast content by almost anyone. TM believes these provisions greatly hinder the functioning of an independent media devoid of intimidation and fear as guaranteed by Article 28 of the Constitution.

Furthermore, while people should be protected from false and harmful accusations, the Act is less about providing redress for victims of defamation. Defamation laws should also be free from manipulation by public authorities and officials, and it should not act as a means to curtail any provisions of the rights prescribed in the Constitution and the International Bill of Rights.

TM calls on the President of the Maldives to consider concerns raised by various actors before ratifying this Act. TM also call on the public to persevere in their fight for freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 27 of the Constitution. Freedom of expression, like all human rights, is not one that is given but rather one that cannot be taken away.

ENDS

View/download the press statement in English and Dhivehi