Mozambique | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Mozambique

Mozambique

Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

40

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

15

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

14

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 also continue to face problems accessing official information. In August 2005, the government introduced a 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 2007. 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. Registration requirements for starting a new radio station remain cumbersome, and license approvals are sometimes made on political grounds, though few license requests have actually been rejected. Defamation of the president is illegal, and libel laws are sometimes used to prosecute media outlets. Although no libel cases were brought before criminal courts in 2007, several civil libel suits with high amounts sought in damages were brought against independent publications, including Horizonte and Faisca.

Journalists are occasionally threatened, harassed, or detained for short periods of time by officials or security forces as a result of attempting to cover sensitive stories or if they publish viewpoints critical of the government. For example, Celso Manguana, from the private daily Canal de Mocambique, was jailed for four days after police accused him of insulting their authority and was released only after protests from a local human rights group and the intervention of the attorney general. Separately, a photojournalist with Diario de Mocambique was detained and released the same day by police while photographing an abandoned building. Developments concerning the 2000 murder of prominent investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso were further resolved during the year. In February, the Supreme Court rejected the appeals of the six men who had been convicted of killing Cardoso and upheld their lengthy prison sentences. Against the wishes of the defendants, the court also took the unprecedented step of allowing the entire proceedings to be broadcast live, citing the public’s right to information. Nyimpine Chissano (son of the former president), who had finally been charged with “joint moral authorship” of the crime in May 2006 after several years of stonewalling but had not been arrested, died in November 2007, bringing an end to his possible prosecution. Despite this resolution, the chilling effect cast by Cardoso’s murder remains; many investigative reporters are hesitant to examine sensitive topics, and self-censorship continues to be 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 prominent 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. Costs of production and distribution are relatively high owing to poor infrastructure and the fact that newsprint has to be imported from South Africa. 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.