Two journalists, an Indian national and a British national, employees of AFP (Agence France-Presse) have been caught by the police of Maldives working in the country on a tourist visa, on Friday February 9.
Indian citizen photojournalist Money Sharma and British citizen Atish Ravji Patel, were caught while covering the political situation in the island nation, after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of Emergency on February 6.
According to a press release issued by the Immigration Authorities in Maldives it is illegal to work in the country if you have initially entered on a tourist visa, therefore the two AFT journalists will be deported to their home country.
“We urge all foreign nationals to adhere to immigration guidelines and acquire the relevant visa that corresponds to the purpose of their visit. We note that several foreign journalists are currently working in the Maldives and welcome all those who wish to do so in the future,” said the statement.
However, the statement highlights that to be able to do so one must obtain a working visa, and not any other type.
“All foreign nationals intending to work in the country should obtain either a business or work visa and this applies to journalists as well.”
The statement clarifies that no other legal steps will be taken against the two AFP journalists, besides that they have been asked to leave the Maldives.
The Maldives capital Male, has seen several political crisis since the dismissal of its first democratically-elected president Mohamed Nasheed in 2012. Last Thursday, the order of the Supreme Court to release the nine imprisoned Opposition politicians, maintaining that their trials were “politically motivated and flawed” caused a fresh chaos, to which the current president Abdulla Yameen responded declaring a state of Emergency.
Just a few hours after the declaration of the Emergency state, Maldives’ Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called the declaration of a state of emergency in the Maldives an “all-out assault on democracy.”
According to a White House statement, Maldivian PM Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump have expressed concern about the political situation in Maldives over a phone call, on February 10.