Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
- While pervasive impunity for crimes against journalists has created a tense and illiberal media environment, there were no reports of journalists being attacked or harassed in 2008—a marked improvement from previous years.
- Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are legally guaranteed, but these rights are often ignored by the government.
- The High Authority for Audiovisual Communications (HAAC), which was intended as an independent body to protect press freedom and ensure ethical standards, is now used as the government’s censorship arm and is closely affiliated with the presidency.
- In February, the HAAC suspended award-winning journalist Daniel Lawson-Drackey of the private radio station Nana FM, allegedly because his reporting violated ethical standards. Lawson-Drackey is the director of the Maison du Journalisme, an organization that helps to protect local journalists. He had been suspended by the HAAC in 2007 for a report that was critical of the minister of territorial administration.
- In an improvement from 2007, foreign journalists were able to operate freely throughout the country in 2008, and were not banned for critical reporting as they had been in the past.
- However, domestic journalists still found it difficult to report without restraint, and many engaged in self-censorship, in part because of the government’s refusal to punish those who have committed serious crimes against media workers in recent years.
- Despite the rapid growth of private media since the late 1990s, the government owns the only daily newspaper and national television station, as well as several radio stations. The size of the private media sector is impressive for a relatively small country, with 25 regularly published private newspapers, eight private television stations, and approximately 100 private radio stations. However, many of these outlets suffer from precarious finances and a low degree of professionalism. The official media strongly support the government, while private media are largely aligned with political parties.
- Access to the internet was generally unrestricted during the year, despite reports that its content has been monitored. Less than 6 percent of the population was able to access this medium in 2008.