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)
Press freedom conditions continued to improve in 2006 owing to fewer instances of physical harassment of journalists and limited progress in the key Cardoso murder case. The 1990 constitution provides for press freedom but restricts this right according to respect for the constitution, human dignity, the imperatives of foreign policy, and national defense. Reporters continue to face problems accessing official information. In August 2005, the government introduced a draft freedom of information bill, the product of five years of consultations with journalists and press freedom advocates, but a final version had not been passed by the end of 2006. The 1991 Press Law, considered one of the more progressive in Africa, was reviewed in 2006 by Gabinfo, the government press office, which suggested possible “improvements” such as provisions for mandatory licenses for working journalists and pointed to the omission of much needed freedom of information legislation. Defamation of the president is illegal, and criminal libel laws are sometimes used to prosecute media outlets. In May, three journalists with Mabarwe, a community paper in Manica province, were arrested as a “preventive measure” after being sued for libel and were detained for a week.
Journalists continue to be at risk of being threatened or harassed by officials or nonstate actors, although no such cases were reported during 2006. Developments concerning the 2000 murder of prominent investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso continued to unfold during the year. The retrial of Anibal dos Santos Jr. began in December 2005, and in January 2006 he was convicted for a second time of recruiting the men who killed Cardoso and was sentenced to almost 30 years in prison. After several years of refusing to investigate the role in Cardoso’s murder of former president Joaquim Alberto Chissano’s son, Nyimpine Chissano, who had been implicated in the testimony of several of the accused killers, authorities charged Nyimpine Chissano with “joint moral authorship” of the crime in May 2006, but he had not been arrested by year’s end. Despite these positive steps, the chilling effect cast by Cardoso’s murder remains; many investigative reporters are hesitant to examine sensitive topics, and self-censorship is an issue.
The private media have enjoyed moderate growth in recent years, and independent daily and weekly newspapers routinely provide scrutiny of the government. However, publications based in the capital, Maputo, have little influence on the largely illiterate rural population. The state owns a majority stake in the main national daily, Noticias, and the largest broadcast networks, Radio Mozambique (RM) and Televisao de Mozambique, although dozens of private radio and television stations also operate. While state-owned media have displayed greater editorial independence, the opposition still receives inadequate coverage and establishment views are favored. According to the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s African Media Barometer, the development of private commercial radio continues to be hampered by the fact that state advertisements are broadcast exclusively on RM. Instances have also occurred where newspapers have had advertising from state-owned companies withdrawn after publishing unfavorable stories. The financial viability of many outlets is affected as well by a law limiting foreign investment in any media enterprise to a 20 percent stake. Internet access is unrestricted, though less than 1 percent of the population has access because of a scarcity of electricity and computers.