Freedom of the Press 2009 - Central African Republic
|Publication Date||1 May 2009|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2009 - Central African Republic, 1 May 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b27421d18.html [accessed 21 September 2014]|
Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 19 (of 30)
Political Environment: 23 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 19 (of 30)
Total Score: 61 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.
The 2005 constitution provides for freedom of the press, though authorities have continued to use intimidation and legal harassment to limit reporting, particularly on sensitive topics such as official corruption and antigovernment insurgencies.
A new press law, which decriminalized many press offenses such as libel and slander, was approved by President Francois Bozize in early 2005; criminal penalties remain for some defamation charges, for incitement to ethnic or religious hatred, and for the publication or broadcast of false information that could "disturb the peace."
Among other cases of harassment and detention in 2008, the government arrested Faustin Bambou, editor of Les Collines du Bas-Oubangui, in January for an article accusing two government ministers of embezzling around US$14 million from the French company AREVA. He was convicted of defamation and given a six-month prison term, but was released in March following a pardon from the president.
Michel Alkhaly Ngady, editor of the private weekly Les Temps Nouveaux, still faced a charge of "disobedience to public authorities" that was pending at year's end. Ngady had been charged in 2007 with obstruction of justice for having criticized the High Council for Communications' suspension of Le Centrafriqu'Un and served a two-month prison sentence.
According to the U.S. State Department's 2008 human rights report, there were no reports during the year that rebels or other nonstate armed groups prevented journalists from reporting outside of the capital, Bangui.
There were reportedly several cases of harassment and physical and verbal intimidation of journalists during the year, encouraging an environment of self-censorship, especially in the state-run media.
Over 30 newspapers were published in 2008, though only a handful appeared regularly. Financial problems plagued many newspapers.
While the state remains dominant in the broadcast sector, the government approved a license for a private television station during 2008. Several private and independent radio stations compete with the state-owned Radio Centrafrique, and two license applications for community radio stations were pending at the end of the year.
Internet access is open and unrestricted, and there are no reports that the government monitors e-mail. However, less than 1 percent of the population was able to access this medium in 2008.