Seychelles | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Seychelles

Seychelles

Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

59

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

20

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

19

The constitution provides for freedom of speech but also restricts this right by protecting the reputation, rights, and privacy of citizens as well as the “interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health.” These restrictions have limited freedom of the press, particularly because libel charges can easily be filed under these laws to penalize journalists. The law also allows the minister of information to prohibit the broadcast of any material that is against the “national interest.” While the judiciary is often perceived as favorable to plaintiffs in libel cases, in August 2007, the court of appeals overturned a libel conviction against Regar, one of the country’s two independent weekly newspapers. Regar had closed in October 2006 in protest at an exorbitant US$58,500 fine it had received. The paper resumed operations once the fine was reversed. Attacks against and harassment of media workers are known to occur at times in the Seychelles; in August 2007, a State House security officer physically assaulted the editor of Le Nouveau Seychelles Weekly.

The only daily newspaper, Nation, is state owned and rarely publishes stories critical of the government. All other papers publish more sporadically and are often affiliated with a political party. The state has a de facto monopoly over the widely consumed broadcast media (both radio and television), and private broadcasters have been slow to develop because of restrictive licensing fees of more than US$185,000 per year. Following one opposition party’s efforts to raise enough money for a radio license, the National Assembly passed an amendment to the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Act prohibiting politically affiliated groups from obtaining a license. The constitutionality of the amendment is currently being appealed in court. Telecommunications companies must submit subscriber information to the government. Although the internet was available and unrestricted in the Seychelles, there were reports in 2007 of the government monitoring e-mail, chat rooms, and blogs for the now nearly 40 percent of the population with access.