Foreign journalists found working on a tourist visa during the Maldives presidential election will face “punitive measures,” the immigration department said Wednesday.
The election is due to be held on September 23 and the Election Commission (EC) has invited foreign media to cover it.
While international press are not banned from the Maldives, getting a visa has been harder in recent years.
Immigration rules require foreign journalists to submit a vetting form with details of previous employment, travel history, qualifications, bank account details and a police certificate to get a work or business visa.
A business visa will be issued to those holding an EC permit to cover the election in addition to the documents required under the visa regulations, the immigration department said.
The EC website was offline at the time of going to press.
“Please note that anyone engaging in any activity or work to monitor, observe or cover election in any other manner under tourist visa is a punishable offense under Immigration Law. Hence, Maldives Immigration will be implementing punitive measures for those who are found to be in violation of Immigration Act.”
People applying for a business visa should arrive once approval had been granted. Those arriving before approval is granted will be deported upon arrival. The business visa application deadline is 15 September. The vetting form – IM32 – and the visa application form are available on the department’s website.
Journalists who enter the country on assignment through a tourist visa have been deported, including two AFP reporters who were kicked out during a state of emergency earlier this year.
Photo shows Polish journalist Elwira Szczecian, who was deported from the Maldives in 2016 for taking pictures at an opposition rally