Maldives | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Maldives

Maldives

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

64

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

23

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

18

Press freedom is not provided for by law and is generally not respected in practice. The penal code bans speech and publications that threaten national security, insult Islam, or could "arouse people against the government," while other regulations make editors criminally responsible for the content of the material they publish. Officials are authorized to shut newspapers and sanction journalists for articles containing unfounded criticism of the government. Four writers for Sandhaanu, an Internet magazine, were arrested in early 2002; after being held in detention and charged with defamation, three were sentenced to life imprisonment and remain incarcerated. In this environment, some journalists practice self-censorship, although less than in the past. Today, newspapers are mildly critical of official policies (though not of specific leaders), and the state-run television station's news and public affairs programs discuss timely issues and criticize government performance. All broadcast media are owned and operated by the government or its sympathizers. Although the government owns the country's sole ISP, Internet access is generally not restricted. In March, the government amended the press law to allow for the closure of publications if they failed to publish regularly; it then cancelled the licenses of 22 such publications.