Police appeals for freedom of expression be exercised ‘appropriately’ in light of outbreak

Opposition coalition holds a protest in the Chaandhanee Magu-Majeedhee Magu junction in Male' City on July 28, 2020. (Photo/MV Crisis)

Maldives Police Service has issued a statement urging that freedom of expression be exercised in an appropriate manner, after reflecting on the coronavirus outbreak situation in the country.

In a statement on Thursday night, the police noted that Health Protection Agency (HPA) has issued an order banning mass public gatherings in the greater Male’ region as a measure to control the spread of the new coronavirus.

The police said that mass gatherings are being held in violation of HPA’s order, and that some of the participants of such gatherings are not practicing social distancing or wearing masks.

The police said that the gatherings come amid a surge in coronavirus cases, along with a surge in infection rate among police workers working on the frontlines.

“This service appeals and reminds to adhere to instructions for health protection when out in public. This service also appeals that freedom of expression be exercised within the confines of the law and by employing appropriate measures in light of this situation,” said the police in their statement.

The police also asked that members of the press covering such public gatherings also practice social distancing and wear masks in accordance with HPA’s guidelines, and ensure that they always have passes issued by Maldives Broadcasting Commission under the Regulation on Accreditation of Reporters Covering Gatherings formed under Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Act on display.

The statement comes as the opposition coalition, composed of PPM and PNC, holds a protest in Male’ City. It follows a similar protest on Sunday.