Belize | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Belize

Belize

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

22

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

9

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

5

The constitution provides for freedom of press and speech, and the government generally respects these rights. However, the constitution also permits government authorities to make "reasonable provisions" in the interests of defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health. These provisions include fines and prison terms for any citizen who questions, outside strict procedural guidelines, any financial disclosure statements submitted by public officials. No cases limiting press freedom through these provisions were reported in 2003. Constraining libel laws cover both newspaper and television broadcasting, although these laws have not been applied in several years. Public debate, criticism, and comments on the government and political matters are vibrantly visible in the media. There are at least 10 privately owned weekly newspapers, two of which are owned by major political parties. Commercial radio stations are also plentiful, and state-run radio was privatized in 1998. Investigative journalist Melvin Flores fled to the United States in February 2003 after receiving threats, presumably related to his reports on a stolen U.S.-owned Hummer sport utility vehicle that was brought into Belize, allegedly with the help of government officials.