Gov't to amend Evidence Act to address journalists' concerns

The government has decided to amend the Evidence Act, which has been a cause of concern among journalists.

In a press release issued Sunday, the Attorney General's Office acknowledged that the provision in Article 136 of the Evidence Act requiring journalists to disclose the source of information in certain circumstances had caused concern among journalists.

The Attorney General's Office said it would propose to amend the law to further clarify the circumstances where journalists are required to disclose their source. It includes defining national security offenses as offenses that involve acts that lead to serious harm to the sovereignty of the country or to the body, life, or property of a person or group and defining terrorism offenses as defined in Chapter II of the Prohibition of Terrorism Act.

The AG Office also noted that the proposed amendments would require the law to stipulate what the court should take into account in requiring journalists to disclose the source of information and that such a decision would be subject to an order from the High Court.

The AG Office said the bill had been drafted after consultations with the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA), the Maldives Editors Guild (MEG), and other relevant bodies. The bill is scheduled to be introduced in parliament this week.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ratified the Evidence Bill while journalists were rallying against the bill.