Asia - Pacific
Index 2024
106/ 180
Score : 52.36
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Economic indicator
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Index 2023
100/ 180
Score : 56.93
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 This Indian Ocean archipelago with 520,000 inhabitants was ruled for almost four decades by an autocratic government that did not tolerate press freedom’s basic principles. But the emergence of democracy in the 2010s has led to the birth of an independent and demanding media.

Media landscape

The Maldives has about ten registered media outlets, which publish and broadcast in Dhivehi, the local language, and English. The state broadcasters – Television Maldives (TVM) and Dhivehi Raajjeyge Adu (“The Voice of the Maldives”) radio – no longer have a monopoly but their influence is still significant. The development of Raajje TV, created in 2010, provided the opposition with a platform and the public with an alternative to the government propaganda that saturated the airwaves during Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s 30 years as president (1978- 2008). The Dhivehi-language daily Mihaaru dominates the print media sector. 

Political context

The state of journalism is largely determined by the political context. Abdulla Yameen, the president from 2013 to 2018, ruled with an iron fist but his successor, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who was elected in 2018, made commitments with regard to press freedom. A promise was kept when parliament repealed the 2016 defamation law, which had been widely used by the previous government to pressure independent media outlets. Solih’s administration did, however, increase attacks on the media. In the lead-up to the 2023 presidential elections, police used excessive force against journalists covering the protests. Elected in 2023, Mohamed Muizzu, supported by the main pro-China opposition party, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), has not amended or repealed the Evidence Act, under which courts can force journalists to reveal their sources. 

Legal framework

Article 28 of the Maldives Constitution proclaims freedom of the press and that “no person shall be compelled to disclose the source of any information that is espoused, disseminated or published by that person.” This constitutional safeguard is undermined by the Evidence Act, which took effect in January 2023 and which allows the courts to compel journalists to reveal their confidential sources. The Maldives Media Council (MMC) and the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) play a key watchdog role in combatting such threats. 

Economic context

Advertising is allocated without any transparency or oversight, which poses serious problems for the independence of media outlets. In several cases, media outlets with no significant readership received large sums of money from state enterprises. In return, editors are told to remove articles that displease or not to cover a sensitive subject.

Sociocultural context

The Republic of the Maldives, which recognises Islam as the state religion, is subject to sariatu, a local version of sharia law that traditionally advocates tolerance and moderation. Journalists are nonetheless subjected to threats and intimidation by Wahhabi-influenced religious extremists. During the 2010s, the government openly exploited this tendency, legitimising religious fundamentalist attacks on “secular” voices. In 2012, independent journalist Ismail “Hilath” Rasheed was stabbed in the neck after denouncing the Islamist tendencies emerging within Maldivian society. He narrowly survived and opted for exile for the sake of his safety.


In 2014, journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla was abducted and his body was never found. In 2017, blogger Yameen Rasheed was brutally stabbed to death. While, behind these two tragedies, lies the spectre of Al-Qaeda–linked circles that could have ramifications within the police, the members of the commission of inquiry created in 2018 have remained quiet on any progress in the investigations. In November 2023, the two main defendants were acquitted. This total impunity poisons the freedom of the press situation. In addition, the issue of sexual harassment of women journalists is slowly emerging.