Legal Politics

Criminal court threatens to take action against journalists

March 19 20:50 2017

The criminal court has threatened to take “legal action” against journalists who threaten the peace, stability and sovereignty of the Maldivian state.

In a stern statement issued Sunday afternoon, the court accused some journalists of trying to “disrupt peace and stability”, “sow strife and discord among the public”, “create misgivings in the hearts of the people towards institutions and the heads of the Maldivian state”, “bring the three branches of the state into disrepute”, and “create divisions among the Maldivian people”.

“And as it has been noted that some of these writings are of the sort that encourages terrorism, [the court] calls upon all journalists to immediately stop such acts,” reads the brief statement.

Despite the threat of legal action, the constitution and the Judicature Act limit the court’s powers and jurisdiction to the functions of a trial court, which cannot raise charges or initiate criminal proceedings.

It is unclear what prompted the criminal court’s warning.

The statement comes amidst heightened political tension with the opposition vowing to stop the alleged sale of Faafu atoll or parts of it to the Saudi royal family.

A no-confidence motion vote against the speaker of parliament is also due to take place on March 27 with a breakaway faction of the ruling party expressing confidence that President Abdulla Yameen will lose his previously unassailable 50-seat majority.

On Sunday morning, Mihaaru meanwhile published a report about families of victims awaiting justice while defendants accused of serious crimes are held in pre-trial detention for years.

The report was critical of the criminal court over stalled trials.

In one case, three men have been detained for the past six years while their murder trial drags on at the criminal court, the newspaper reported, noting that several trials have been stalled after the court concludes proceedings and fails to schedule a sentencing hearing.

Earlier this month, a teenager accused of threatening a ruling party council member was transferred from police custody to house arrest after more than one year elapsed between the first and second hearings of his trial.

The Maldivian media is meanwhile facing unprecedented threats with journalists saying they are forced to practice self-censorship after the widely condemned re-criminalisation of defamation.

Full details are available from the link below:

Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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