The defamation bill passed by the Maldivian parliament today is a serious setback for freedom of expression in the country. When the bill was first introduced to parliament just under two weeks ago, our embassy in Colombo, jointly with five diplomatic partners, released a statement voicing concern about the erosion of fundamental freedoms and the institutions of democracy in Maldives, including freedom of assembly and press.
The United States values freedom of expression as a key component of democratic governance. Democratic societies are not infallible, but they are accountable, and a free exchange of ideas is the foundation for accountability. We continue to express our support for all Maldivians struggling to preserve their hard won democratic institutions and rights.