Access to information is one of the key aspects of a healthy democracy. Allowing people to seek and receive public documents serve as a critical tool for enhancing transparency, accountability and service delivery.
The Constitution of the Maldives guarantees right to information held by offices, officials and by private bodies that carry out activities that affect the public in general.
Nevertheless, time and again various Government offices, public and private institutions and officials refuse or fail to facilitate journalists and media organizations access to information.
Regrettably, both the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) and the Maldives Media Council (MMC) have been so far silent on these issues. MBC also has a mandate to establish public service broadcasting, while MMC has a mandate to advocate and stand guard to protect the rights of free media and promote strong press.
MJA believes that with the lack of strong voice and active role by MBC and MMC may have only exacerbated an ongoing situation.
Number of media organizations have been repeatedly singled out and discriminated in receiving information. Some high-level public officials including Government ministers have been telling that they do not want to provide information to those Media Organizations who do not entertain or propagates as they wants. A recent statement by Minister of Finance Ahmed Inaz, shown repeatedly on Dhi-TV on 18th of June, also may suggest the attitude of these officials towards media.
Maldives Journalist Association urges MBC and MMC to become proactive in their responsibilities in promoting freedom of information, and help to change a culture of secrecy. MJA also urges these two regulatory bodies to hold accountable any official who refuse to share information and discriminate any media organization.