Freedom of the Press - Belize (2007)
|Publication Date||2 May 2007|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press - Belize (2007), 2 May 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/478cd50528.html [accessed 23 May 2013]|
Legal Environment: 8 (of 30)
Political Environment: 8 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 5 (of 30)
Total Score: 21 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
The constitution of Belize protects the right to freedom of expression, although there are several legal limitations to that right. The government may fine up to US$2,500 and imprison up to three years those who question the financial disclosures of public officials, though there were no reports of this law being exercised in 2006. Newspapers are subject to libel laws; furthermore, the Belize Broadcasting Authority (BBA) holds the right to preview broadcasts with political content and remove libelous material, but this right was not exercised during the year. In June, Prime Minister Said Wilbert Musa stated that media freedom may have gone too far. Although not calling for direct restrictions, he encouraged the BBA to act on curbing abuses to press freedom such as instilling violence, hate, and devious behavior.
There are 8 television and 33 licensed radio stations, including 1 affiliated directly with the United Democratic Party. There are no daily newspapers in Belize, though there is a vibrant market for weeklies. Papers are privately owned, with two weeklies directly affiliated with political parties. In general, reporting covers a wide range of opinions. Belize has close to 40,000 registered internet users (approximately 12 percent of the population), and the internet is unrestricted by the government.