[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Protest at Maldives net controls
Laptop user in the Maldives
The Maldives has 15,000 internet users
Telecoms giant Cable & Wireless has been urged to use its influence in the Maldives to help free jailed net users.

The press freedom watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, has written to the company's boss, asking him to put pressure on the Maldives authorities to end abusive internet censorship

Cable & Wireless has a big stake in the firm that runs the Maldives network.

But the British firm has said that foreign investors should not intervene in how a country is run.

'Ethical consequences'

Reporters Without Borders says that the Maldives is one of the world's most repressive in terms of freedom of expression on the internet.

Cable & Wireless's position is that the form of governance is a matter for the citizens of the country concerned and not a matter in which a foreign investor should intervene
Cable & Wireless spokesman
It says that four internet users are currently in jail there for having posted articles critical of the government.

"Cable & Wireless has said it is very concerned about human rights issues," said the group in a statement.

"We therefore hope that its top executive will appreciate the ethical consequences of running the network in a country like the Maldives."

It has approached Cable & Wireless as it holds 45% of the stock in Dhiraagu, the company that runs the phone and internet network in the Maldives.

No to intervention

But the telecoms giant has rejected the call to intervene in how the internet is run in the tropical paradise.

Map of the Maldives
"Cable & Wireless companies operate in compliance with local law in some 40 countries and territories and this includes the implementation of internet access policy as prescribed by the local authorities," a spokesman told BBC News Online.

"As a partner with governments in many of the countries we operate, Cable & Wireless's position is that the form of governance is a matter for the citizens of the country concerned and not a matter in which a foreign investor should intervene."

According to the CIA factbook, the Maldives had some 15,000 net users in 2002, out of a population of 318,000.

Opponents of the government in the Maldives say it is responsible for arbitrary arrests, detention without trial and torture in prison.

The government says there is no repression and that it has no political prisoners in its jails.




SEE ALSO:
Maldives reforms proposed
10 Jun 04  |  South Asia
Country profile: The Maldives
04 Mar 04  |  Country profiles
Wireless web reaches into paradise
18 May 04  |  Technology
Paradise island gets wireless web
31 Jul 03  |  Technology


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific