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)
Despite its status as one of the poorest nations in the world, Mali is home to a press that is among the freest in Africa. The constitution protects the right to free speech, and the government generally respects this right in practice. Nonetheless, severe punishments for libel still exist under a 1993 law that criminalized slander. Legislation passed in 2000 reduced the maximum penalty for those convicted, but the accused still remains guilty until proven innocent. Journalists are occasionally subject to harassment, particularly when covering cases of government corruption. In July of this year, Hamidou Diarra, a journalist with Radio Keledou, was abducted and severely beaten by a group of unknown assailants. It is suspected that the attack was linked to Diarra’s frequent criticisms of Malian politicians on his national radio program, but no charges had been filed by the end of the year.
In general, the government strives to guarantee both an open environment for the media and universal access to information. It has funded the establishment of community radio stations that broadcast in local languages for the benefit of Mali’s sizable illiterate population. Today, there are more than 100 private radio stations and over 50 independent newspapers, many of which openly criticize the government. The country’s only television station remains under the control of the government but provides balanced political coverage. Access to foreign media and to the internet is unrestricted by the government, though in practice both are accessible only to the very wealthy or well connected.