International organization , the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have called on the Maldives to empower the commission established by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to investigate enforced disappearances and murders.
In a letter addressed to the Speaker of the Parliament, CPJ called to bring the bill currently at a standstill back onto the agenda and to hold a vote prior to the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Over three separate attempts have been made by the government to pass the bills granting sweeping powers to the two commissions since the commissions were first established early into the presidency of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in November. However, due to one reason or another, mostly due to loss of quorum on the parliament floor, the 18th parliament has failed to pass the bills through the parliament. The bills are now on hold while the committee reviews the bills once more due to issues with the report published by the committee after researching the bills. No more work as been done on the bills since then.
In their letter, CPJ noted that although the press freedom environment in the Maldives was improving, empowering the presidential commission would further strengthen press freedom in the Maldives.
"This bill represents an essential step in the pursuit of justice for crimes committed against journalists in the Maldives," read the letter.
CPJ further said the Maldives cannot achieve its goals of a democratic and just society if impunity reigns in cases of religiously motivated attacks targeting writers.
Noting that the attempted assassination of Ismail Hilath, the murder of Afrasheem Ali, the abduction of Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, and the murder of Yameen Rasheed were all connected according to the chair of the commission Dr. Husnu-Al-Suood, CPJ called to prosecute and hold the perpetrators of the crimes accountable for their actions to prevent further attacks against journalists.
"Prosecuting and holding the perpetrators accountable is imperative to preventing any future attacks and lifting the climate of fear for writers", said CPJ.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is an American independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, based in New York City, New York with correspondents around the world. CPJ promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists