UN rights expert pleased defamation no longer criminal offence in Maldives

The bill adopted on 23 November abolishes articles 150 through 166 of the country’s Penal Code, which deal with defamation of a person’s “name, integrity, or dignity,” which carried a sentence of exile, house detention or fine. UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, welcomed the move, which he had called for following his visit to the Maldives in March. He also urged all States which have not already done so to repeal criminal defamation laws in favour of civil laws. “In addition, any provisions that allow public officials to bring defamation suits with regard to their actions in public office should be totally eliminated,” he stressed.Mr. La Rue also said he looked forward to the implementation of other recommendations he made with regard to the Maldives, including the adoption of an anti-monopoly legislation, particularly with regard to communications. 1 December 2009An independent United Nations human rights expert today welcomed the adoption of a bill by the Parliament of the Maldives to decriminalize defamation, and urged other States to take similar action.

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