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‘Diamond Pens’: Journalism awards draw criticism

The annual journalism awards handed out Tuesday night by the Maldives Media Council has been heavily criticised over the snub of former president Mohamed Nasheed and honouring of the broadcasting regulator’s chief.

Mohamed Shaheeb, chair of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, was among eight former journalists recognised with Alimas Galan (Diamond Jubilee Pen) awards to mark 75 years after the first print publication of government news.

During the previous administration, the regulator used a draconian anti-defamation law to slap hefty fines on private broadcasters, including more than MVR3.7 million (US$240,000) on Raajje TV for airing speeches deemed defamatory towards former president Abdulla Yameen.

The widely-condemned law, which criminalised defamation and forced the media into self-censorship, was repealed after Yameen’s election defeat.

On social media, Raajje TV journalists called the award for Shaheeb an “insult” to press freedom. He caused “irreparable damage” to Maldivian journalism, said Hussain Fiyaz Moosa, the station’s former chief operating officer and one of the award winners, calling for Shaheeb’s award to be taken back.

The awards were also criticised for the omission of former president Mohamed Nasheed, who was jailed numerous times for critical reporting during former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s 30-year reign.

Gayoom was among eight recipients of the Diamond Jubilee Pen of Honour award for promoting journalism.

“I have been charged and imprisoned over 14 times, mostly for writing dissenting journalism. Congratulations to President Gayoom for receiving the honour marking the Diamond Jubilee of Maldives Journalism,” Nasheed tweeted.

Full details are available at the link below:

Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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