Connect with us

Politics

Mauritius Parliament votes in favour of controversial broadcasting bill

Published

on

Mauritius parliament has voted in favour of a controversial broadcasting bill despite calls for reason from the opposition, civil rights activists, ex-regulators, media entities and academics.

Critics consider the legislation, passed without amendment, to be an affront to media freedom.

A Tuesday afternoon of high drama at the National Assembly, including the suspension of Labour MP Patrick Assirvaden, has culminated in Government MPs passing a bill presented by PM Pravind Jugnauth that will tighten rules on independent radio stations.

The bill will now go to the President of the Republic, Prithvirajsing Roopun for his assent.

He may refuse to give his assent to the law.

Just hours after opposition called for a “division of votes”, arguing that its “constitutionality will probably be challenged in Court”, final vote ignored calls “to stop the assassination of democracy”.

The bill introduces a series of menacing amendments in the IBA Act:

  • Radios may now be slapped with administrative penalties of up to Rs 500,000,
  • Creation of an Independent Broadcasting Review Panel (IBRP) whose three members will be appointed by the Prime Minister
  • Power to the IBRP to enforce sanctions, notwithstanding any legal proceeding
  • Private radio licenses to be renewed every year instead of every three years.
  • Radio stations could be required to disclose their sources at the request of the government through the courts

The legislation places the ruling MSM party at odds with the political opposition, NGOs, academics and the civil society, and the government’s refusal to reconsider the law have not gone unnoticed. 

While the government cites the risk of hostile and derogatory remarks against “broadcasting victims”, the target of the law appears to be Top FM, which also operates Top TV.

It has uncovered several scandals, including those of corruption, nepotism and political witch-hunting, and has been tagged as being anti-government.

Earlier, dozens of protesters turned out against the law in front of Parliament.

They were later joined by the Opposition parties.

A senior Investment Senior said “an unpredictable regulatory framework should be very concerning for all potential investors in the market.”

After voting the Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Bill, another contested legislation, only a week ago, the government is being accused of having stepped up a message control spree to bring critics in line.

The government argues the legislation would update Mauritian law to be on par with other countries, in giving additional powers to the regulator.

However, experts claim Mauritius’s reputation for media freedom and as a place for foreign direct investment “are today on the line.”

Bookmark(0)

No account yet? Register

Spread the News
The information and opinions expressed in our published works are those of authors/sources believed to be reliable. NewsMoris makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information expressed.
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The information and opinions expressed in our published works are those of authors/sources believed to be reliable. NewsMoris makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information expressed.

Can you support?

Dear Reader,

NewsMoris is a media service that is dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions.

As a startup that was born in and faring through challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.

Subscribing for as little as USD10/month is the best way you can support our efforts.

Thank you.