Belize | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Belize

Belize

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

21

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

8

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

5

The constitution of Belize protects the right to freedom of expression, although there are several legal limitations to that right. The government may fine (up to US$2,500) and imprison (up to three years) those who question the financial disclosures of public officials, though there were no reports of this law being exercised in 2005. Newspapers are subject to libel laws, which were implemented this year in June when a court ordered The Guardian to issue a public apology for criticizing Prime Minister Said Musa in 2003. Furthermore, the Belize Broadcasting Authority (BBA) holds the right to preview broadcasts with political content and remove libelous material. In July 2005, the BBA stated that it would temporarily suspend issuing new licenses because of the high number of existing broadcasters, which are comprised of 8 television stations and 33 licensed radio stations, including 1 station affiliated directly with the United Democratic Party. No daily newspapers are printed in Belize, though there is a vibrant market for weeklies. Papers are privately owned, with two weeklies directly affiliated with political parties. In general, reporting covers a wide range of opinions. Belize has approximately 35,000 registered internet users, and the internet is unrestricted by the government.