Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
The media, already facing heavy legal restrictions as well as official harassment, came under increasing attack during 2002. The Press and Communication Code of 1998 declares in its first article that the media are free, but restricts press freedom in most of the 108 other articles. In September, the National Assembly passed an amendment to the code that increases the penalty for "defaming or insulting" the president, state institutions, courts, the armed forces, and public administration bodies to a jail term of one to five years. A number of journalists were arrested and sentenced to prison terms during the year on charges of defamation. Authorities regularly seize newspaper print runs, harass and detain reporters, and close media outlets. While the heavily politicized private print media regularly criticize official policies, independent broadcast media outlets offer little vibrant local news coverage or commentary. State-owned media outlets, including the only daily newspaper, the national television channel, and a number of radio stations, slant their coverage to favor the government. The financial viability of many independent publications is compromised by official pressure on advertisers as well as by police confiscations of print runs, both of which hinder sales. As a result, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, reporters often accept bribes in exchange for giving favorable coverage.