Lesotho | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Lesotho

Lesotho

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

40

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

15

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

14

The government generally respects freedom of speech and the press, which is provided for in the constitution. A 1938 proclamation prohibits criticism of the government and contains penalties for seditious libel. Defamation lawsuits regularly target journalists and media organizations. In a victory for press freedom, February saw the High Court rule in favor of the independent newspaper MoAfrika after the newspaper's editor was summoned to court to defend the content of a recurring announcement in the Sesotho weekly. In July, the financial burden of a penalty resulting from a 1999 defamation lawsuit brought MoAfrika Radio to the brink of closure. The government's recently coercive approach to collecting the fine, as well as the disproportionate size of the fine itself, have led to condemnations from press freedom organizations. Several independent newspapers, including two Christian publications and four English-language weeklies, freely criticize the government. State-owned print and broadcast media reflect the views of the ruling party, failing to give equal coverage to opposition parties. Journalists reportedly have trouble gaining access to official information, most recently concerning the treatment of convicted mutineer Katleho Malataliana. Media development remains constrained by under-funding and a lack of resources.