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)
In an uncertain political environment highlighted by an unsuccessful coup attempt in June and presidential elections held in November, Mauritanian media remained subject to considerable official pressure during 2003. A constitutional provision for freedom of expression is offset by a restrictive press law that forbids the publication or dissemination of reports deemed to "attack the principles of Islam or the credibility of the state, harm the general interest, or disturb public order and security." At least 10 independent newspapers were banned or seized during the year. Journalists are also sometimes subjected to harassment and arbitrary arrest at the hands of authorities. All publishers must register with the interior ministry and submit copies of newspapers to the ministry for review and possible prepublication censorship. As a result, private newspapers are unable to publish on a daily basis, and a number of journalists practice self-censorship. State-owned media outlets, including the only two daily newspapers and all broadcast media, slant coverage to support official policies. Although the government gave all candidates equal coverage on broadcast outlets during the November elections, opposition parties' access is otherwise extremely limited. However, foreign television broadcasts are available via satellite, and Internet service providers operate without government restrictions.