IFJ expresses concern on harassment of journalists covering India Out movement

One of the largest journalist rights organizations, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), has expressed concern over the harassment of journalists covering the India Out movement in the Maldives.

Led by opposition leader and former president Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the 'India Out' campaign began in 2020 against the alleged presence of Indian military personnel in the Maldives. The movement has been gaining momentum over the past few months, both in the capital city and in the atolls.

The IFJ's comments come as some media outlets that covered the movement's activities have reported police intimidation and obstruction when covering the events.

In a statement, the IFJ said although it recorded only two media rights violations in the Maldives from May 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022, b a legacy of interference in media regulators and a history of impunity for crimes against journalists had been noted. IFJ said journalists must be allowed to operate in the field without fear of attack or persecution and said harassment and threats to journalists in the field contravene the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Maldives' constitution.

The Media Council of Maldives (MMC) has earlier called on authorities not to impede the journalists covering the India Out movement.

Last month, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih declared the India Out movement a threat to national security under a presidential decree. The Decree came while supporters of the movement had been hanging banners with the movement slogan from tall buildings in Male' City. Following the Decree, Maldives Police Service have been removing banners and other posters supporting the movement.

The opposition coalition has repeatedly said that it would not stop the India Out movement despite the government's attempts to stop the movement.