Freedom of the Press 2008 - Mali
|Publication Date||29 April 2008|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Mali, 29 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4871f61928.html [accessed 23 May 2015]|
Legal Environment: 10 (of 30)
Political Environment: 9 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 8 (of 30)
Total Score: 27 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Although Mali's constitution protects the right to free speech and the country's broadcast and print media have historically ranked among the freest in Africa, recent actions by authorities against journalists have contradicted this past trend. Furthermore, severe punishments for libel still exist under a 1993 law criminalizing slander. Legislation passed in 2000 reduced the maximum penalty for those convicted, but the accused still remain guilty until proven innocent.
Libel laws, though not consistently enforced, were applied in 2007. In March, a court in Bamako sentenced Diaby Macoro Camara and Oumar Bore, respectively the managing editor and editor-in-chief of the private monthly Kabako, to four-month suspended prison terms and fines of approximately US$ 100 for defaming the minister of planning, Marimantia Diarra. The 2006 article that instigated these charges reported that the minister had allegedly attempted to threaten his former fiancée with physical force. On June 14, authorities arrested Bassirou Kassim Minta, a 10th grade teacher who assigned his students a fictitious essay about a presidential sex scandal, on charges of offending the president, along with Seydina Oumar Diarra, the editor of the private daily Info-Matin who reported on the story. On June 20, authorities arrested four other editors whose papers republished the story. Diarra was forced to serve 13 days in prison and to pay a find of approximately US$ 400; the sentences for the other four editors were eventually suspended, although they were forced to pay similar fines. Minta was sentenced to two months in prison, fined approximately $US 1,200, and has been banned from teaching.
There were other instances during 2007 in which authorities intimidated journalist. In March, the private station Radio Jamakan was evicted from its office in a government-owned building following the station's critical coverage of the opposition. In July, a broadcaster with Radio Kafo-Kan, a community station based in the south, was attacked by a local politician for allegedly incorrectly reporting the politician's share of seats won in the June parliamentary election.
Today, there are more than 100 private radio stations and over 50 independent newspapers, many of which openly criticize the government. Given the adult literacy rate of only 24 percent, the majority of Malians rely on broadcast media, and private or community radio stations provide a critical service. The country's only national television station remains under state control but generally provides balanced political coverage. The government does not restrict access to foreign media. Although the government does not restrict internet access, less than one percent of the population was able to access this electronic resource in 2007.