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)
- Chad’s constitution allows for freedom of expression, but authorities have routinely used threats and legal provisions to censor critical reporting.
- A 2008 press law, Decree No. 5, increased the maximum penalty for false news and defamation to three years in prison, and the maximum penalty for insulting the president to five years. It also requires permission from both the prosecutor’s office and the High Council of Communication (HCC), Chad’s media regulatory body, to establish a newspaper; previously it was only necessary to register with the Ministry of Commerce. Separately, the HCC banned reporting on the activities of rebels and any other information that could harm national unity.
- Journalists faced harassment and arrest during 2009 for expressing criticism of the government. The authorities summarily expelled the Cameroonian-born editor of La Voix du Tchad, Innocent Ebode, on October 14, a day after he wrote an op-ed in response to a government official’s suggestion that the Nobel Peace Prize should have been awarded to Chadian president Idriss Deby. In another instance of official harassment of the independent weekly, authorities brought a case challenging the paper’s legality, and in a questionable decision, a judge ordered the seizure of the paper’s issues in early December in an attempt to prevent its publication, according to Reporters Without Borders. After Ebode returned to Chad to challenge the order, he was abducted and detained by unknown men in late December.
- Private newspapers circulate freely in the capital, but they have little impact on the largely rural and illiterate population. The only television station is state owned. Radio is the primary means of mass communication, and licenses are granted by the HCC, which is considered to be greatly influenced by the government. The licensing fee for commercial radio stations continues to be prohibitively high at five million CFA francs (US$11,000) per year. The HCC is also said to monitor and control radio content. There are over a dozen private and community-run stations on the air.
- There are no reports that the government restricts internet access, but the internet infrastructure remains government owned, and less than 2 percent of the population had access to this resource in 2009.