President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has asserted that information regarding the activities of state institutions must not be withheld from the citizens, as it is their constitutional right.
He made these remarks in an address in commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information 2020, on Monday.
In his address the president urged government institutions to provide information to the citizens, highlighting that obstruction of freedom of information could lead to possible repercussions.
Each and every state employee has the responsibility to respect the right to information and it also the determination that drives the Information Commissioner’s Office which was formed to provide said rights to the people.
According to Article 28 of the Maldives Constitution, “everyone has the right to freedom of the press, and media other means of communication, including the right to espouse, disseminate and publish news, information, views and ideas. No person shall be compelled to disclose the source of any information that is espoused, disseminated or published by that person” and Article 29 reads that “everyone has the freedom to acquire and impart knowledge, information and learning”.
In regard to this, the president stressed on the importance of facilitating the freedom of information, noting that state institutions have the responsibility to stop any obstruction to freedom of expression. As such, government institutions must provide the information that everyone is entitled to know, accordingly.
He stated that the provision of information must be prioritized by all government institutions, before requests for the information, are made.
Highlighting that providing information regarding state activities to the public is not a choice, Solih noted that it is the right of the public. Further, he stated that this an important instrument to cease corruption, embezzlement and other forms of state misconduct.
Solih stressed that mistrust churns within the society when state employees hesitate to provide information and highlighted that there is more transparency when state institutions prioritize the provision of information.
The president in his address, also shed light on the importance of freedom of media, highlighting that these are basic rights.
Powers of the government roots from the people and to date, remains with the people, said Solih.
In light of this, he noted that constitutional powers will only be maintained if rights granted under the constitution are granted to the people.