Index on Censorship strongly condemns the killing of Maldives blogger Yameen Rasheed, who was found with multiple stab wounds in the stairway of his apartment building in Malé on Sunday 23 April 2017, and died soon after he was taken to the hospital.
“We call on Maldives authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the murder of Yameen Rasheed,” Index’s head of advocacy Melody Patry said. “The failure to protect Rasheed after he reported receiving multiple death threats to the police is tragic. It is critical the police show credible and independent efforts to bring those responsible to justice.”
Rasheed was 29 years old and frequently satirised the Maldives’ political and religious authorities in his blog the Daily Panic. Zaheena Rasheed, friend and editor of the Maldives Independent news website said Yameen Rasheed had reported receiving multiple death threats to the police. He was also a close friend of Ahmed Rilwan, the Maldives Independent journalist who was abducted and disappeared in 2014.
This killing takes place the same week editors of Maldives Independent received the 2017 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Journalism Award. During her acceptance speech, exiled editor Zaheena Rasheed said “the space for independent press was narrowing by the day”.
Maldives journalists and bloggers have faced increased pressure and taken great risks to express their opinion and hold the government to account. In August 2016 the Maldives passed a law criminalising defamation and empowering the state to impose heavy fines and shut down media outlets for “defamatory” content. In September, Maldives Independent’s office was violently attacked and later raided by the police, after the release of an Al Jazeera documentary exposing government corruption.