Mali | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2010

2010 Scores

Press Status


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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

  • Mali’s constitution protects the right to free speech, and the country’s broadcast and print media have ranked among the freest in Africa in recent years.
  • Severe criminal punishments for libel still exist under a 1993 law, and the accused face a presumption of guilt despite improvements to the law in 2000, but no journalist has been prosecuted under this law since 2007.
  • The media in Mali regularly work to hold the government accountable to the people. In December 2009, for example, the press called for the government to release information on how the funds generated from the privatization of the country’s telecommunications company were being spent after officials were initially reluctant to do so.
  • Unlike in 2008, there were no reports in 2009 of journalists being harassed in the course of their work. However, in February a journalist for Radio Kayira, Nouhoum Keita, was arrested and jailed on charges of fraud that were unrelated to his work as a journalist. On a Radio Kayira program aired prior to his arrest, Keita claimed that government officials had set him up. He was released in April.
  • In a country where the adult literacy rate is only 26.2 percent, according to the UN Development Programme, most Malians get their news either from word of mouth or from over 200 radio stations operating in the country, half of which are fully independent and many of which openly criticize the government.
  • While the more than 40 independent newspapers have limited readerships due to the low literacy rate, they are influential among the country’s elite and often set the agenda for the radio stations that reach the rest of the population.
  • The overall quality of the media in Mali is limited by the lack of adequate journalism training and the country’s high poverty level, which leads many low-paid journalists to take bribes.
  • The government does not restrict access to foreign media.
  • Although the government does not restrict internet use, only about 2 percent of the population was able to access this resource in 2009. Most used internet cafes, as high costs remained a barrier to home access.