Freedom of the Press
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)
Although Article 15 of the constitution affords the right to express and disseminate “opinions by word, pen, or image,” the government imposes restrictions on the independent press. Free speech is limited by prohibitions on slander and the dissemination of “false information” as well as difficulties in obtaining broadcasting licenses, arrest and detention of journalists, seizure of newspapers, and high court fines for “offensive” reporting, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The U.S. military presence in Djibouti creates additional pressure for self-censorship, as journalists are encouraged not to report on soldiers’ activities. On May 30, a journalist for the government broadcast operator Radiodiffusion-Television de Djibouti was suspended for three months for broadcasting a story on a child who reportedly had avian influenza and whose mother denied the illness, accusing the Ministry of Health of creating the story to try to obtain foreign assistance.
Because of extreme poverty, radio is the most popular news medium, as few can afford newspapers or TV sets. Television and radio broadcasts are controlled by the government and report favorably on government activities; however, the BBC World Service, Radio France Internationale, and Voice of America are also accessible. The largest newspaper is the biweekly government-owned La Nation, though opposition parties also print two weekly papers—Le Renouveau and Le Republique. The only internet service provider is government owned. In January, the website of the Association for Respect of Human Rights in Djibouti (ARDHD) was blocked. The ARDHD is often critical of the government, which denied involvement in the blocking. Just over 1 percent of the population was able to access the internet in 2006.