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)
Freedom of speech is protected by the constitution, and this right is usually respected by the government in practice. However, under the 1993 information code, media outlets may be summarily banned if they are accused of distributing false information or endangering national security. No law exists to guarantee equal access to information. The Ministry of Information provides administrative and technical supervision to all media outlets, and the Supreme Council of Communication-which operates with significant presidential pressure-acts as the regulatory body for the media.
Investigations into the December 1998 politically motivated murder of prominent newspaper journalist Norbert Zongo have produced few results because of political interference in the trial, despite an appeal by the Press and Democracy network for such impediments to cease. The leading suspect in the case, President Blaise Compaore's brother, has yet to be charged and has been questioned only once by the police. It was reported that in February, journalist Urbain Kabore was beaten by six policemen over a dispute concerning press access to Hajj pilgrims returning to Burkina Faso. By year's end, no punitive action had been taken against the police.
State-operated media outlets function with a significant pro-government bias, but private media, including several daily newspapers and more than 50 radio stations, operate with little governmental interference and are often highly critical of the government, particularly on issues such as corruption and human rights violations. At the same time, the administration continues to be sensitive to such scrutiny, pressuring many journalists into self-censorship through periodic police harassment. Access to international print and broadcast media and the internet remains unrestricted, though only 53,000 internet users have been recorded out of a population of 12 million.