The Maldives has dropped six places in the 2024 World Press Freedom Index. The Index is an yearly compilation by Reporters sans frontières (RSF) which measures press freedom around the world.

The Maldives was ranked 106th on the list marking it a country in which practicing journalism is ‘difficult.’ RSF considered the country’s setbacks in press freedom, most notably the Evidence Act, which was passed and ratified during the previous administration. This act obliges journalists to disclose sources of information if ordered by a court.

RSF noted that the Act violated constitutional rights of journalists, terming it a legal obstacle to freedom of the press.

RSF had ranked the Maldives 100th on the Index last year, marking it a ‘problematic’ country for journalists to work in. The year before, in 2022, the Maldives was was ranked 87th, which was considered a ‘satisfactory’ level of press freedom.

In terms of the nation’s most recent press freedom scores, the Maldives Political index last year stood at 53.75 points versus 43.48 points this year — the country was ranked 97th last year and 109th this year.

Economically, the Maldives scored higher this year than last. In 2023, the country was ranked 161st with 32.84 points, while this year it was ranked 133rd with 36.04 points.

Legislatively, the Maldives was ranked 98th last year with 59.91 points, but it slid down to 111th with 54.42 points in 2024.

Socioculturally, the country ranked lower again — the nation was placed 124th with a score of 55.68 last year but was ranked 131st with 48.10 points this year.

In terms of safety and security, the country was ranked 57th with 82.48 points in 2023 and ranked 80th with 79.76 points in 2024.

While the current administration has not proposed any amendments to the Evidence Act, President Mohamed Muizzu, during his World Press Freedom Day address on Friday, reaffirmed his commitment to providing state funds to the media.

President Muizzu, during his presidential campaign, had said that the biggest challenge facing the journalism in the Maldives was a lack of independent funding. Should he be elected he would allocate a potion of the state budget for the media, Muizzu had reiterated throughout his campaign. With Muizzu’s People’s National Congress (PNC) winning a supermajority of 77 seats in Parliament, the president is now well placed to deliver on the promise.

Muizzu also touched on plans for the construction of a media village where journalists will have access to affordable office space as well as increasing training opportunities for the media. The administration will also work to strengthen relations between local journalists and international organisations working to promote journalism, he said.

While the Maldives was ranked 106th in the World Press Freedom Index, other regional nations fared considerably worse, with India coming in 159th and ranked a “very bad” country in terms of press freedom, while Pakistan came in 152nd, and Sri Lanka was 150th.