Congo, Republic of (Brazzaville) | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Congo, Republic of (Brazzaville)

Congo, Republic of (Brazzaville)

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

54

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

20

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

17

No press freedom abuses were recorded in 2003 in the Republic of Congo, where the constitution provides for freedom of the press but criminalizes certain types of journalistic speech such as incitement to ethnic hatred, violence, or civil war. Since the official end of the civil war in March 2002, the government has generally respected the rights of journalists to seek and impart information but continues to monopolize broadcast media. Cases of official abuse of journalists' rights to report the news have been on the decline since 2000, when the government officially abolished censorship and sharply reduced penalties for defamation. The improved press law, which also applies to the Internet and business public relations operations, imposes monetary penalties for defamation and incitement to violence but no longer requires prison terms for violators. The peace agreement and an ongoing national reconciliation drive appear to have fostered a new spirit of objectivity among a press corps splintered along ethnic lines during the civil war. While the state is not known to own or to control print publications directly, half a dozen private newspapers appearing weekly in the capital, Brazzaville, carry strongly pro-government editorials. Another half-dozen criticize the authorities freely and often print acerbic position papers from jailed or exiled opposition figures. However, print media do not circulate widely beyond Brazzaville and other densely populated areas, leaving most Congolese to rely on radio broadcasts for information on local and international events.