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)
Freedom of expression is safeguarded by the constitution, and this right was respected in practice in 2006. In August, the government proposed a plan to diffuse the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the media regulatory body, and replace it with a media commission that would have the power to sanction the press and impose stronger punishments for libel and sedition. Penalties for libel could reach 2 million MUR (US$65,000) along with a prison term of up to two years. An additional Broadcasting Compliance Committee would be established to respond to complaints against broadcasters and would have the power to suspend or revoke licenses. These acts were pending at year’s end. Also pending is a proposed freedom of information bill, which would increase government transparency by giving journalists access to official documents. In September, 106 members of the press convened to establish the Mauritius Journalists Association to safeguard their rights. In December, the IBA sanctioned state-owned MBC-TV for biased political coverage. The sanctions were sparked by complaints by the Mauritian Militant Movement claiming that MBC-TV allowed the Republican Movement greater airtime. Mauritians receive the majority of their news from television, which is monopolized by the government. Radio broadcasts are dominated by the government’s Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation, which is funded predominantly through a television license fee, though private stations also operate. The private press is vibrant, with 12 daily and weekly independent papers, but ownership is concentrated in two main media houses, Le Mauricien Ltd. and La Sentinelle Ltd. The internet is unrestricted by the government and usage is wide compared with other African nations, at 14 percent of the population.