Freedom of the Press

Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands

Freedom of the Press 2007

2007 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

30

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

14

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

11

The law in the Solomon Islands provides for freedom of speech and of the press, but the news media were challenged by renewed ethnic violence in 2006. On April 18, protests against the election of Prime Minister Snyder Rini led to rioting that devastated the Chinatown district of Honiara, the capital, amid suspicions that local Chinese businessmen had used bribery to influence the election result. The widespread violence led to a more dangerous atmosphere for journalists and had a chilling effect on free speech. Australia and New Zealand deployed troops and police to assist the local security forces and the existing Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), and Rini resigned shortly thereafter. RAMSI officials later praised the conduct of local journalists during the crisis and offered a series of training and support programs to bolster the country’s press.

One daily newspaper, the independent Solomon Star, dominates the media scene. Three private weekly papers—Solomons Voice, Solomon Times, and the new Island Sun, established in November—are also published, along with the monthly newsletters Agrikalsa Nius and the Citizen’s Press. Low literacy rates mean that the broadcast media are major news sources. The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation operates the national public station Radio Hapi Isles, Wantok FM, and the provincial stations Radio Hapi Lagun and Radio Temotu. One private commercial station, Paoa FM, also operates. There are no domestic television stations, although the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and other satellite channels can be received. The internet is not restricted by the government, but it is accessed by less than 2 percent of the population.