Freedom of the Press 2009 - Mauritania
|Publication Date||1 May 2009|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2009 - Mauritania, 1 May 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b27420428.html [accessed 30 August 2014]|
Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 18 (of 30)
Political Environment: 22 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 18 (of 30)
Total Score: 58 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press. Legal and regulatory reforms enacted in 2006 included the elimination of the requirement for prepublication government approval for newspapers, the establishment of journalists' legal right to protect sources, and the creation of the High Authority for the Press and Broadcasting.
On August 6, 2008, the constitutional government of President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdellahi was ousted in a coup after he attempted to dismiss top military leaders. The coup was led by the head of the Presidential Guard, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. The political turmoil did not dramatically alter the media landscape through the end of the year.
Since the coup, at least two journalists have been punished by the authorities for attempting to cover anti-coup protests. Ahmed Ould Neda, a reporter with the Nouakchott-based independent news agency Akbar Info, was arrested while covering an August 7 protest, and Bechir Ould Babana, a reporter with the MBC satellite television network, was beaten by police while covering an October 15 protest.
Several journalists were arrested or faced defamation charges during the year for reasons unrelated to the coup. Among other cases, an appeals court in February upheld the one-year prison term of Abdel Fettah Ould Abeidna, managing editor of the newspaper Al-Aqsa, for defaming a businessman whom he accused of involvement in a drug scandal. In another case, the publisher and a journalist with the private Al-Hurriya newspaper were arrested on defamation charges in July after the paper reported on alleged judicial corruption; the two men were released on August 17.
Immediately following the coup, military leaders took control of the state broadcast media. Mauritania is currently the only West African country without any private radio or television stations. There are several state-controlled newspapers, and numerous private daily and weekly papers.
Internet access is not restricted by the government, but the internet was used by only 1 percent of the population in 2008.