Restricting election coverage to registered journos won't hinder freedom: Govt
Miuvan said the amendment would provide opportunities to journalists who were not given the chance in the past.
Mohamed Muzayyin Nazim
Government on Thursday said it does not consider restricting election coverage to only registered journalists as an attempt to obstruct the media.
According to an amendment proposed by the government to the General Election Act last week, only "registered journalists" can cover elections in the Maldives. There are concerns raised by some quarters about it:
The bill defines registered journalists as any person working in a registered media, including writers, photographers and videographers
Organisations are concerned that international journalists and local freelance journalists may not be allowed to cover elections
When asked about the issue at a press conference held at the President's Office on Thursday, presidential spokesperson Miuvan Mohamed defended the amendment.
Miuvan said the amendment was proposed "systematically" to allow journalists to cover elections. He said the amendment would provide opportunities to journalists who were not given the chance in the past.
"The media gets access that the general public does not have at the polling booths. It's not being restricted at all," Miuvan said.
"Foreign media will also get a chance to cover the elections just like they have covered elections in the past and the local media. The intention of this is not at all to interfere with the mediain any way."
On March 25, the Election Commission had said it would open the doors for foreign journalists to apply for permission to cover the presidential election.
Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) and Transparency Maldives have issued a statement expressing concern over the bill amendment. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also expressed concern over the amendment.
Organisations have described the amendment as an attempt to undermine the role of the media.