Freedom of the Press 2010 - Central African Republic
|Publication Date||30 September 2010|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2010 - Central African Republic, 30 September 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ca44d9b2.html [accessed 31 July 2015]|
Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 19
Political Environment: 23
Economic Environment: 19
Total Score: 61
|Total Score, Status||63,NF||61,NF||58,PF||61,NF||61,NF|
The 2005 constitution provides for freedom of the press, though authorities have continued to use intimidation, suspension of outlets, and legal harassment to limit reporting, particularly on sensitive topics such as official corruption and rebel activity.
A 2005 press law decriminalized many press offenses, such as libel and slander, but criminal penalties remain for some defamation charges, incitement to ethnic or religious hatred, and the publication or broadcast of false information that could "disturb the peace."
There were no reported cases of journalists being arrested or imprisoned in 2009, an improvement over 2008, when multiple journalists were sentenced to prison for convictions ranging from defamation to obstruction of justice.
Reporters, particularly from privately owned outlets, continue to face difficulties in accessing government information or covering official events.
The High Council for Communications (HCC) temporarily suspended the private dailies Le Citoyen and L'Hirondelle in 2009 for violating journalism ethics and "jeopardizing the sovereignty of the state," respectively. The editors of other private newspapers temporarily suspended their own publications in solidarity and publicly declared a loss of faith in the independence of the HCC.
Journalists continue to face harassment and threats from the authorities, and some practice self-censorship to avoid reprisals.
The ability of journalists to operate safely outside of the capital improved in 2008 thanks to peace talks between the government and two main rebel groups. However, the situation regressed in 2009 due to increased activity by the Lord's Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, in the southeast.
Several private newspapers offer competing views. While many of them have been actively providing a certain amount of diverse political coverage in preparation for the 2010 presidential election, their influence is limited due to low literacy levels, high poverty rates, and the lack of a functioning postal service to facilitate the delivery of newspapers outside the capital.
More than 30 newspapers were published in 2009, though only a handful appeared regularly. Financial problems plagued many newspapers. Radio continues to be the most important medium for information.
State-run media dominate the broadcast sector, but while the government monopolizes domestic television, there are a number of private radio stations that compete with the state-owned Radio Centrafrique, including Radio Ndeke Luka, which provides local and international news and commentary. International broadcasts are also available.
Internet access is 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 2009.