Rights organisations in Maldives on Friday condemned the government's move to ban websites publishing anti-government content.

Three websites publishing anti-government content have been blocked in Maldives, with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and many members of the public expressing concern over the censorship of anti-government content and describing it as a warning bell. 

The move comes just a week into the government's decision to block pornographic websites. President Mohamed Muizzu also announced on Saturday that his government would block all access to websites that display explicit content.

People in Maldives reported two websites -- and -- as inaccessible on any local networks since Thursday evening.

A third one,, also said it had been blocked by local internet service providers.

Despite government assurances that it will not "shut down" or block any "registered" media outlets, in separate statements, the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA), Editors' Guild of Maldives and Transparency Maldives described the move as a direct infringement upon fundamental rights such as the freedom of information, press freedom, and the right to express dissenting opinions.

This decision was implemented without any transparent procedure disclosed to the public, MJA and Editors' Guild said, adding that they oppose and condemn this form of internet censorship by the government.

"We call on the government to immediately withdraw this measure," MJA's statement read. 

"These undemocratic actions pose a significant threat not only to media but also to the populace at large. Such decisions are regressive steps that undermine the progress of Maldives’ democracy."

According to MJA and Editors' Guild, Maldives Media Council (MMC) is mandated to uphold ethical journalism standards and combat the spread of misinformation, including overseeing unregistered media outlets. If issues persist with websites, the legal recourse lies within the MMC's jurisdiction to investigate and take necessary actions, they added.

"Government intervention circumventing this established legal process is not warranted," MJA's statement read. 

MJA and Editors' Guild said that empowering and supporting the MMC to fulfil its duties effectively is the key to resolving concerns around misinformation and disinformation.

"While acknowledging the need to combat disinformation, we maintain that censorship is not the solution. Instead, a proactive approach involving public education on discerning false information and aiding media outlets in professional fact-checking are deemed more effective," MJA's statement read.