Maldives opposition files motion to repeal defamation law

A top opposition lawmaker on Thursday submitted a motion to the parliament seeking to repeal the contentious defamation law.

The contentious defamation law was passed in 2016 by the government controlled parliament despite widespread criticism, criminalising speech deemed to be defamatory, to comment against “any tenet of Islam”, to “threaten national security” or to “contradict general social norms”.

Those committing an offence under the law can face fines and failure to pay the fine will result in jail sentence of three to six months.

Speaking to reporters after filing the motion, North-Henveiru lawmaker Abdulla Shahid said the defamation law infringed several fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.

The move came after Maldives' president elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had vowed to repeal the defamation law within the first 100 days of his government.

Solih is set to be sworn in as the seventh president of the crisis-hit island nation which is expected on November 17 after the country's apex court rejected defeated president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's bid to annul last month's presidential elections on Sunday.

Yameen lost the September 23 election by a margin of 16 percent to opposition alliance candidate Solih, in an outcome hailed as a win for democracy in the crisis-hit archipelago.

The result was widely accepted, including by the United States, China, India, and the European Union.

Yameen conceded defeat a day after the election but had alleged widespread irregularities in the vote.