New Delhi: Following a request from the Indian government, the Maldives government has asked the local media not to publish false news against foreign diplomatic personnel as it impedes their work as stipulated under international law.
The Indian high commission sent a note verbale to the Maldivian foreign ministry on June 24 that complained about malicious news articles and social media posts “attacking the dignity” of the diplomatic personnel posted in the Indian Ocean nation.
In the letter, India had asked the Maldivian foreign ministry to take steps so that the freedom and dignity of India’s diplomats were not compromised in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
While the letter was dated June 24, it was published first by the Maldivian media on Tuesday.
Two days later, the letter was leaked into the media and the Maldivian foreign ministry issued a statement criticising the publication of “false news and accusations” against diplomatic personnel accredited to the Maldives. The note, issued only in the local Dhivehi language, did not mention India by name.
It stated that under the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, Maldives had the responsibility to give full protection to foreign diplomats assigned to work in the country.
The Maldivian statement also expressed that these articles could not only impact relations with country, but also threaten the diplomats and obstruct them from doing their official work.
The main political party in the ruling alliance, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) also released a statement, which directly named India and the concerned media group.
“The Maldivian Democratic Party is deeply concerned over the recent reports in Dhiyares, expressing disparaging and ill-founded remarks about Indian diplomats in the Maldives,” said the MDP communique.
It also indicated that the articles about India on the website were part of a “political campaign”, hinting that the opposition was behind it. There has been a vocal campaign by the opposition parties which has tried to corner the Maldivian government over its close ties with India.
“While the MDP always respects freedom of expression and welcomes robust debate on foreign policy, and the national interests, MDP condemns such defamatory propaganda which is only motivated by the desire to sow discord and animosity,” added the party.
In New Delhi, when the MEA spokesperson was asked about the Indian high commission’s letter, he pointed to the statements from Maldivian foreign ministry and MDP.