Maldives police arrest reporters

2016-04-03 22:02
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Male - Maldives police arrested 16 independent journalists while breaking up their demonstration against an alleged crackdown on freedom of speech in the politically troubled nation, private media outlets reported.

Police on Sunday used pepper spray and roughed up reporters who were staging a sit-in protest outside President Abdulla Yameen's office in the capital Male, according to several outlets including the Maldives Independent website.

The protest was aimed at forcing the government to withdraw its draft criminal defamation bill, which protesters fear will be used against private media as well as political opponents of the government.

Government spokesmen Ibrahim Hussain Shihab said the protest was broken up because the journalists had gathered in a protected zone near the president's office and scaled the barricades. He said only 11 demonstrators were arrested.

Photos shared on social media showed journalists 

READ MORE: Maldives police in violent crackdown against opposition

Ongoing political unrest in the Maldives, a nation of 1 192 tiny coral islands, has dented its image as a peaceful paradise for well-heeled honeymooners and upmarket tourists.

"The latest protest follows a series of moves by the government and the judiciary to restrict free speech and media freedom in the archipelago," a journalist from the Haveeru newspaper told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that six of his colleagues had been detained.

The Maldives Independent said five of its journalists were arrested, while three taking part in the protest were pepper-sprayed at close range and had to be taken to hospital. Private TV stations also said five of their reporters had been arrested.

The state controls the main radio and TV stations but not the newspapers.

OPINION: Internet freedom in Myanmar: A curse or an opportunity?

Meanwhile, police on Saturday confirmed for the first time that Ahmed Rilwan , the journalist who went missing in 2014, had been abducted. Rilwan worked for a pro-opposition website at the time of his disappearance.

Police said security camera video showed a man identified as a member of a criminal gang following Rilwan as he was returning home from work.

Western leaders have said there are worrying questions about freedom of speech, rule of law and the government's commitment to democracy in the nation of 340 000 Sunni Muslims.

Many opposition political leaders have either been jailed or forced into exile by Yameen's government, which faces mounting international criticism over its treatment of dissidents.

Political unrest has escalated since the toppling four years ago of the country's first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Nasheed, in what he claimed was a coup.

Nasheed, whose conviction and jailing last year on terror-related charges has been widely criticised, is now in the UK for urgent medical treatment after being given prison leave.

Read more on:    maldives  |  media

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


5 scientific benefits of owning a cat

According to science, just the act of watching cats itself can bring about positive emotions – so it comes as no surprise then, that owning a cat has a number of benefits.



Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
How to clean your dog’s eyes
This special pooch inspired his brother to learn to stand again
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.