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 September 2002 amendments to the 1998 Press and Communications Law further restricted press freedom by criminalizing defamation and requiring the licensing of journalists. These laws have since been regularly employed by authorities to harass and detain journalists and disrupt and close private radio stations and newspapers critical of the government. In early 2003, the High Authority for Audiovisual Communications (HAAC), Togo's official media regulatory body, temporarily closed private radio stations Nana FM and Tropik FM. Both stations had previously aired debates surrounding the legitimacy of President Gnassingbe Eyadema's intention to run for a third term in office. Further press intimidation occurred in late March when the communications ministry banned all foreign correspondents from reporting in the country. In June, authorities arrested three journalists at a cyber cafe and charged them with attempting to publish false information and disturbing public order as a result of their scanning photographs of persons who were allegedly physically abused by police and militia during the presidential elections. Despite government interference, an active independent press exists; more than 15 privately owned newspapers are known to publish opposition viewpoints and criticism of the government. A few private radio and television stations exist but tend generally to reinforce government policies. State-owned media outlets, including the only daily newspaper, the national television channel, and a number of radio stations, are dominated by pro-government agendas. The viability of many independent media is challenged by the reluctance of businesses to advertise with media outlets critical of the government. Intense financial pressures on journalists have left many open to bribery.