Freedom of the Press

Belize

Belize

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

23

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

8

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

4

The constitution provides for freedom of the press, and the media operate freely, without regular interference by the government. The constitution, however, also stipulates that authorities have the right to intervene in media operations if the interests of national security, public order, or morality are at stake, though such intervention rarely occurs. Nevertheless, those who question the validity of financial disclosure statements submitted by public officials can be sentenced to prison terms of up to three years. Libel laws constrain freedom of expression, which encourages some self-censorship. However, a wide variety of viewpoints are still presented in the media. There are no daily newspapers, though there are several privately owned weekly papers and a large number of privately owned radio and television stations. The Belize Broadcasting Authority, a state-regulated agency, has the right to preview and censor certain broadcasts, including those with political content.