Maldives: legislation threatens right to protect sources
A decision by the Maldives parliament to ratify the country's Evidence Act with vague exceptions, could mean journalists are ordered to reveal their sources.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) joins the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Maldives Journalists' Association (MJA) in condemning new legislation compelling source disclosure.
On 18 July, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ratified amendments to the Evidence Act, allowing courts to order access to journalistic sources. The identity of sources can be revealed under two exceptions to the act, when cases relate to acts of terrorism and national security related matters.
The exceptions are if the court decides that there is “no negative impact or significantly less negative impact to the source or others even if the source is revealed” and “if the impact of revealing a source does not significantly impact the ability of journalists to find sources.”
The decision has been met with objection from journalists and the MJA, who state the move would have “a chilling effect on freedom of expression.”
The NUJ is urging authorities to ensure every journalist’s right to protect sources is secured. Without further amendment, the Act will be implemented in six months.
The IFJ said:
“The ratification of the Evidence Act dangerously undermines press freedom and the protection of journalists and their sources in the Maldives.
“The IFJ calls on the Maldivian government to urgently collaborate with media rights organisations and urgently amend the bill before its implementation.”