A member of the Maldives print and online media regulator has sued it for declining to investigate a silent protest staged by Raajje TV staff at this year’s journalism awards ceremony.
Assad Shareef, a former actor and unsuccessful ruling party parliamentary candidate, filed the lawsuit against the Maldives Media Council at the civil court.
“The issue is not against Raajje TV. When the protest happened in an MMC event it should have been stopped. I told the president of MMC and others that we have to stop the protests and no action was taken when it happened. Later I raised the issue but the council decided to do nothing about it,” he told the Maldives Independent.
Assad said he was unsatisfied with the council’s handling of the protest at the award ceremony on October 11.
“That is the problem. Something should have been done,” he said.
The 15-member media council is comprised of journalists and members of the public elected by the media community. Assad is one of seven members elected from the public.
The Raajje TV staff staged the silent protest against the Maldives Broadcasting Commission after the separate regulator for TV and radio stations imposed a third fine under the controversial 2016 anti-defamation law.
Journalists wore black t-shirts and held up placards that called for the resignation of MBC members, who were appointed by the president with approval from the ruling party-dominated parliament. They also carried a box as part of a fundraising drive to pay off the hefty fine.
MBC president Mohamed Shaheeb was expected to attend the event but did not turn up.
Raajje TV has been slapped with fines worth MVR1.7 million (US$110,000) for allegedly defaming President Abdulla Yameen and posing a threat to national security.
Photo by Raajje TV journalist Rizna Zareer.