Freedom of the Press

Comoros

Comoros

Freedom of the Press 2013

2013 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

49

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

20

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

15

The 2001 constitution protects freedom of speech and of the press, but the Comoran government partially restricts these freedoms in practice. Journalists are subject to harsh defamation laws, and self-censorship is reportedly widespread. In April 2012, police detained journalist Mmadi Moindjie for 24 hours on libel charges, after the newspaper he worked for, the private daily Al-Balad, published a picture of presidential adviser Issa Soule without his consent.

The authorities in past years had arrested journalists, seized newspapers, and silenced broadcast outlets for reports that were found to be objectionable, although these practices have become less common in recent years. However, in April 2012, Interior Minister Hamada Abdallah withdrew the monthly supplement from the state daily Al-Watwan and suspended managing editor Pétan Mouignihazi. The supplement included a special report on government corruption and waste. In March 2011, two journalists had been charged with “publishing false news” by a public prosecutor in the capital Moroni, located on Grand Comore. The charges stemmed from reports that then vice president Ikililou Dhoinine’s inauguration as President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi’s successor might be delayed. The prosecutor alleged that these reports, which were politically sensitive due to allegations by the opposition that the presidential transition was being dragged out in order to extend Sambi’s term in office, were “of a nature to trouble public order.”

Comoros has six independent newspapers and one state-owned weekly, Al-Watwan. In addition to the state-owned Radio Comoros and Television Nationale Comorienne, several other regional and private stations have proliferated in recent years and are funded predominantly by donations from locals as well as from citizens living abroad. The Anjouan regional government operates its own stations under Radio-Television Anjouanaise. Public radio from the French island of Mayotte, as well as metropolitan France’s Radio France Internationale, are also available in some areas. In February 2012, economic restructuring forced Al-Balad to eliminate its Arabic language editorial department.

The internet is available and unrestricted by the government. However, poverty, illiteracy, and a poor telecommunications infrastructure limited access to just 6 percent of the population in 2012.