Cyprus | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Cyprus

Cyprus

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)

8

Freedom of speech and of expression are guaranteed under Article 19 of the constitution. These rights are generally respected in practice in the Greek part of Cyprus, where the independent press is vibrant and frequently criticizes authorities. Some laws are in place for freedom of the press in the northern, Turkish part of Cyprus, but authorities are overtly hostile to the independent press, and journalists can be arrested, put on trial, and sentenced under the “unjust actions” section of the criminal code. Although Turkish Cypriot journalists can enter the south, Turkish journalists based in the north are often denied entry at the border and are occasionally harassed by Greek Cypriot border guards and ultranationalist Greek Cypriot groups.

The Northern Cyprus government has frequently targeted independent newspapers; in December 2006, Dogan Harman, editor of the Kibrisli paper, was charged with defamation of the attorney general following the publication of a critical article. The charges were later dropped after the Supreme Court repealed the law used to charge Harman retroactively. The newspaper Afrika has been a particular target for attack in Northern Cyprus in recent years. In February 2007, Afrika cartoonist Huseyin Chakmak, a vocal supporter of the reunification of Cyprus, was attacked by a group of men throwing stones and tomatoes. Afrika journalist Ibrahim Aziz was threatened following the publication of an article criticizing the treatment of a Greek Cypriot businessman who died while imprisoned in Northern Cyprus. In October, right-wing groups—including the Grey Wolves, who claimed the newspaper was supporting terrorism—gathered outside Afrika’s offices and threatened journalists. The demonstrators claimed that the newspaper was serving as the voice of a Kurdish group by publishing photographs of Turkish prisoners that had earlier appeared on a Kurdish website.

Cypriots have access to Greek and Turkish broadcasts throughout the island. There are 8 major dailies, approximately 27 weekly newspapers, and 6 major magazines available in the south. However, many daily newspapers are closely linked to political parties. The south’s Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation owns two television stations and four radio stations. Several private television and radio stations compete effectively with government-controlled stations. Ownership is highly concentrated. There are several daily newspapers available in Northern Cyprus, although mainland Turkish papers are generally preferred. The broadcasting service is controlled exclusively by the Turkish Cypriot administration. Approximately 45 percent of Cypriots are able to access the internet on a regular basis and are not subject to any known government restrictions.

[The numerical rating for Cyprus is based on conditions on the Greek side of the island.]