Maldives parliament passes tough defamation law

The Maldives' parliament has passed a law that criminalizes defamation and allows for jail terms and steep fines for journalists, despite local and international concern that it will be a setback for freedom of speech in the country.

Parliament passed the law on Tuesday with a 47-31 vote.

According to the law, anyone convicted of criminal defamation can be fined from $1,620 to $130,000. Failure to pay the fine can result in a jail term of up to six months.

Maldivian journalists and opposition politicians, as well as the European Union and the embassies from the U.S., Britain, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands, had urged the government of the South Asian archipelago nation not to pass the law.