Freedom of the Press 2008 - Congo, Republic of (Brazzaville)
|Publication Date||29 April 2008|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Congo, Republic of (Brazzaville), 29 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4871f5f928.html [accessed 31 July 2014]|
Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 17 (of 30)
Political Environment: 17 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 17 (of 30)
Total Score: 51 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
The constitution provides for freedom of the press, although several types of expression are considered to be criminal offenses, including incitement to ethnic hatred and violence. Following legal reforms in 2001, many press offenses are punishable by fines rather than imprisonment, including libel and publishing "false news." Nonetheless, these fines are often excessive and quickly handed down to publications critical of the government. Local journalists employed by international media outlets, as well as those employed by the state-run media, have been stripped of accreditation for reporting perceived to be overly critical of the government.
According to the press freedom organization Journaliste en Danger (JED), which is based in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, no direct attacks on journalists in Congo-Brazzaville were recorded in 2007. However, in June, two local television journalists reported receiving threats in connection with their coverage of the opposition during June legislative elections, according to the U.S. State Department. Self-censorship by journalists in response to subtle intimidation remained a problem.
In 2007, over 15 private weekly newspapers were published in the capital, Brazzaville, and provided some scrutiny of the government, although the print media did not circulate widely beyond major urban centers. There was one state-owned newspaper, La Nouvelle République, as well as a number of private publications believed to be allied with the regime of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Radio remains the most popular nationwide; although there were three privately owned radio stations and four privately owned television stations, the government has been slow to loosen its grip on the broadcast sector and continues to run three radio stations and one television station. Political parties are not permitted to own radio stations or television channels. Although several private radio and television stations have gained permission to broadcast in recent years, they rarely criticize the government. There are no reports that the government restricts internet usage or monitors email, although less than two percent of the population had access to this resource in 2007, and was concentrated in mainly urban areas.