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Responding to the Maldivian Parliament’s passage today of a new defamation bill, Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director, South Asia Regional Office and Senior Research Adviser, South East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office, said:

"The new defamation bill is another attack on free media by the Maldivian authorities. Defamation should never be criminalized – this bill gives the authorities sweeping powers to fine and imprison journalists, or even to shut down whole outlets. We urge the authorities to scrap or substantially amend this flawed piece of legislation as soon as possible.”

The People’s Majlis passed the Defamation bill granting regulators the authority to interrupt live coverage or suspend licenses of media outlets if it receives complaints of slander. The bill will come into effect on ratification by the president.