Dec 03, 2009 (LBO) – UN officials and human rights groups have praised the decision by the Maldives to decriminalise defamation.
Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy and good governance. For democracy to be effective, citizens must be able to hold those in power to account without fear of retribution. I commend all those MPs who voted in favour of decriminalising defamation, Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Republic of Maldives, said.
This year, the Maldives jumped 53 places in Reporters Without Borders’ (RWB) annual Press Freedom Index – the biggest improvement in press freedom by any country in 2009.
On November 23, 2009, members of the Maldives Majlis – the country’s legislative body – voted 34-7 in favour of a government-proposed bill to abolish articles in the penal code that criminalise defamation.
I welcome this positive step taken by the Parliament and the implementation of one of the recommendations that I had made following my official visit to the Maldives in March this year, Frank La Rue, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the r