Freedom of the Press - Cote d'Ivoire (2004)

Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 19
Political Influences: 29
Economic Pressures: 17
Total Score: 65

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 43
Religious Groups: Christian (20-30 percent), Muslim (35-40 percent), indigenous beliefs (25-40 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Akan (42.1 percent), Voltaiques or Gur (17.6 percent), Northern Mandes (16.5 percent), Krous (11 percent), Southern Mandes (10 percent), other (2.8 percent)
Capital: Yamoussoukro (official)

As political instability continued to divide the country in 2003, access to balanced information was limited and Ivoirian as well as foreign media remained subject to threats and pressure both from the government and from rebel forces. Constitutional provisions for freedom of expression are not always respected in practice. The law allows authorities to initiate criminal libel proceedings against persons who insult the president or prime minister, defame institutions of the state, or undermine the reputation of the nation. However, the government has announced its intention to introduce draft legislation that would eliminate prison sentences for press offenses. Dozens of independent newspapers, many of which have links to political parties, continue to criticize official policies freely, while state-owned newspapers and a state-run broadcasting system are usually unreservedly pro-government. Several private radio stations and a cable television service operate, but only the state broadcasting system reaches a national audience. There is liberal access to the Internet, and in February the government allowed Radio France Internationale (RFI), the BBC, and Africa No. 1 to resume their FM broadcasts after having suspended them five months previously. In such a partisan environment, journalists have been subjected to threats and attacks from all sides. A reporter for the state-run press agency was found murdered in western Cote d'Ivoire in March, and a correspondent for RFI was shot and killed by a policeman in October. Some monitoring groups expressed concern that an anti-French campaign in the pro-government media had been a contributing factor to the murder. In the same month, opposition newspapers temporarily halted publishing after pro-government militants attacked newspaper delivery trucks.

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