Freedom of the Press

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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

61

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

26

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

18

Freedom of speech and of the press is guaranteed in the constitution, but the government at times restricts these rights. Criminal libel laws provided for in the Public Order Act are occasionally used to jail journalists. In November, Paul Kamara, the founding editor of For Di People, was convicted on 18 counts of libel, sentenced to nine months in jail, and ordered to pay a fine, while the court recommended that his newspaper be banned for six months. The Independent Media Commission, established by an act of parliament and charged with registering media outlets and regulating their conduct, suspended a newspaper in March and denied a broadcasting license to a private radio station in September. Dozens of newspapers are printed in Freetown, the capital, but most are of poor quality and often carry sensational or undocumented stories. Many openly criticize the government and armed factions. Several state-owned and private radio and television stations broadcast and remain an important source of public information. Corruption and bribe taking among poorly paid journalists continue to be problems. Reporters sometimes face harassment and intimidation at the hands of security forces.