Controversial evidence law comes into force
The bill was ratified after journalists' body Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) and other organisations called for the bill to be sent back.
Mohamed Muzayyin Nazim
Evidence Act, which makes it mandatory for journalists to disclose their sources, came into effect on Wednesday.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on July 18 ratified the bill passed by MDP’s super-majority parliament to make it mandatory for the court to make it mandatory upon journalists to disclose the sources of their information and intelligence.
The act states that the journalist or the media can be compelled to disclose sources on the basis of a complaint filed by a person involved in a case
A court order may direct the source to disclose terror crimes and matters related to national security
One of the main concerns expressed by journalists at the time was that the circumstances under which the source could be forced to revealed were not systematically interpreted, which could undermine press freedom.
According to the law, it is to come into force six months after it was ratified. The deadline expired this Wednesday. As a result, from this day onwards, journalists will be forced to disclose their sources in certain circumstances.
The bill was ratified after journalists' body Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) and other organisations called for the bill to be sent back to parliament for amendment without ratification. Even after the law was ratified, international organisations at the time also expressed their concern over it.
Some other provisions of the law are:
In civil and criminal cases, procedures to be followed while recording evidence, accepting evidence and examining evidence have been laid down
General rules for the amount of evidence required to prove something and other evidence
A bill has been introduced again in the parliament to amend that part of the Act due to concerns raised by journalists regarding the provisions required to disclose a source. Journalists' body MJA has also expressed concern over the bill.