Mauritius | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Mauritius

Mauritius

Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

26

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

8

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

12

Freedom of expression is safeguarded by the 1968 constitution, and this right was generally respected in practice in 2007. Although there are formally harsh punishments for libel, these laws are not regularly upheld in practice, and the independent media were diverse and frequently expressed views critical of the government. However, there is currently no law in place to guarantee access to public information.

In a worrying move that contradicted the traditionally liberal Mauritian media environment, three journalists were arrested in the first such incident in 13 years. On November 21, authorities in the capital, Port Louis, arrested Annabelle Volbert and Josian Valere of the private station Radio Plus, and Gerard Cateaux, editor in chief of the private newspaper Weekend, on charges of defamation and disseminating inaccurate news. These arrests followed coverage of the discovery of money in a safe used by the late former head of the Major Crime Investigation Team, Premnath Raddhoa. The three journalists were provisionally released following several hours of questioning on the day of their arrests and were released on bail after a court appearance the following day.

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, although there are several private radio stations. The private print media are vibrant, with 9 daily papers and 33 weeklies, 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 that in other African nations, at 24 percent of all households. However, on November 9, the Information Communication Technology Authority (ICTA) allegedly requested that internet service providers block access to Facebook, the social-networking site, in response to the posting of a fake profile of Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam. Access to Facebook was reportedly restored later in the day once Facebook had removed the profile, following the ICTA’s request.