Belize | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Belize

Belize

Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

22

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

9

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

5

The constitution of Belize protects the right to freedom of expression, although there are several legal limitations to that right. The government may fine up to US$2,500 and imprison for up to three years anyone who questions the financial disclosures of public officials. Newspapers are subject to libel laws, and the Belize Broadcasting Authority holds the right to preview broadcasts with political content and remove material it deems libelous. Some isolated attacks against journalists were reported during the year. Local paper Amandala reported that in September, two homemade bombs were found in the car of Evan “Mose” Hyde, host of the popular Krem Radio program Wake Up, Belize. Upon investigation, authorities indicated that an attempt was made to ignite one of the explosive devices. In October, local Krem TV and Radio co-host Rufus X, of the politically charged Kremandala Show, was attacked by an unknown assailant with a metal rod, breaking his arm in two places. The journalist claimed the attack was in response to his expression of political views on the airwaves.

While there are no daily newspapers in Belize, there is a vibrant market for weeklies. Papers are privately owned, with two weeklies directly affiliated with political parties. In general, reporting covers a wide range of opinions. Government-operated radio was privatized in 1998, and today there are 8 television stations and 33 licensed radio stations. The People’s United Party and the United Democratic Party both have radio stations with which they are affiliated. While the government does not restrict internet access or use, lack of infrastructure and high costs limited usage to just over 12 percent of the population in 2007.