Maldives

Area: 298 sq. km.
Population: 300,000
Languages: Divehi, English
Type of state: republic
Head of state: President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom


Maldives - 2003 Annual report

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has been in power since 1978. The president, appointed by parliament (which comprises leaders of the country’s main atolls), can shut down newspapers and arrest journalists for writing critical articles.

Freedom of expression is restricted by several laws, including a 1968 measure banning speeches and articles that criticise Islam, endanger national security or are libellous. However, several privately-owned newspapers criticise the government.
The government radio station, The Voice of the Maldives, and the state-owned TV station also air some criticism of the authorities. But, as an official website says, there are no independent electronic media in the country.
Mohamed Nasheed, an independent journalist and opposition member of parliament, has been detained since 8 October 2001. After being held secretly for a month in the capital, Male, he was sentenced at a hasty trial to be banished for two and a half years to the remote atoll of Raa for alleged theft.
By the end of 2002, it was not clear if he was being detained because of his articles, some of which appeared on the Internet, or for political reasons. In February 2001, he signed a petition asking the government to allow an opposition party to be set up.



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see also
2003 Africa Annual Report
2003 Americas Annual Report
2003 Europe Annual Report
2003 North Africa and the Middle East Annual Report