My delegation welcomes the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression for his meticulous report.
The Maldives enacted the Right to Information Act in January 2014, which is an important step towards increasing transparency and accountability as well as widening the scope of citizen’s right to information; and building upon the many steps already taken by the Governments’ commitment to guaranteeing the right of freedom of expression for all its citizens.
The Maldives stresses the need for private stakeholders, including those relating to the internet and digital technologies, who exert great power over the digital space, to commit to maintaining the delicate balance between freedom of opinion and expression and enhancing privacy.
The biggest achievement of the 21st century was the advent of the internet. More than making our lives easier and a part of the connectivity inherent to it, has been that it is the sole greatest vehicle for freedom of expression in the history of humanity.
In October of 2016, the Parliament passed a new law on freedom of expression imposing financial penalities on libel and slander, inline with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This addition is meant to balance the notion of democratic responsibilities with democratic freedoms, to provide a space that is safe for all people, especially the media and civil society.
Our responsibilities to safeguard our collective rights should not be forsaken. Digital information today faces a greater threat than ever before, and our resolve to protect it from the corporate financial interests must be absolute. My delegation looks forward to working with the Special Rapportuer and other international mechanisms, as well as other relevant stakeholdres, to address these collective concerns. We hope the spirit of community prevails.