The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) [advocacy website] on Wednesday said [press release] that press freedom in the Maldives has been deteriorating since the resignation of former president Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed, who was the first democratically elected presdient of the Maldives, has claimed that he was forced from office in a coup, but current President Mohamed Waheed Hassan [official profile] has denied these allegations. CPR said that under Hassan's presidency, journalists in the Maldives have been subject to police brutality and attacks by political extremists. The group called on Hassan to ensure the safety of journalists in the country, saying, "President Hassan must ensure that journalists are free to report if he wishes to distance himself from [the former dictatorship] and stabilize the nation for elections." Elections are scheduled to take place in the country next year.
Protection of free expression remains a key concern for international human rights advocates. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the government of Sri Lanka to end arrests and office raids of journalists [JURIST report] who publish content critical of the government. In June, two reports were presented to the UN Human Rights Council urging greater protection for the right to life of journalists [JURIST report] and media freedom. The CPJ in February released its annual Attacks on the Press report [JURIST report], expressing concern about increased censorship of journalists worldwide in 2011. The CPJ criticized the growing trend of government censorship, especially Internet censorship. Last May, journalism rights group Reporters without Borders (RSF) released [JURIST report] its annual list of predators of press freedom, which included the heads of state of several countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In April 2011, the US Department of State (DOS) released [JURIST report] its 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, listing many of the same offenders of free press as the RSF report.