Legal Environment: 5 (of 30)
Political Environment: 9 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 8 (of 30)
Total Score: 22 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Freedom of speech and of expression are guaranteed under Article 19 of the constitution, and these rights are generally respected in practice in the Greek part of Cyprus, where the independent press is vibrant and frequently criticizes authorities. In August, Cypriot media imposed a 15-day blanket ban on covering the Turkish-controlled north of the island, protesting the frequent number of arrests there of Greek Cypriot journalists.
Some laws are in place for freedom of the press in the northern, Turkish part of Cyprus, but authorities are overtly hostile to the independent press, and journalists can be arrested, put on trial, and sentenced under the "unjust actions" section of the criminal code. Although Turkish Cypriot journalists can enter the south, Turkish journalists based in the north are often denied entry across the border. Harassment of Turkish Cypriot journalists by Greek Cypriot border guards and ultranationalist Greek Cypriot groups has been reported by the U.S. State Department. Several local daily newspapers are available, but the broadcasting service is controlled exclusively by the Turkish Cypriot administration. In November, two French journalists were arrested and accused of filming at a restricted military site while working in the city of Varosha. They were later freed and fined 300 Cyprus pounds (US$665). Independent newspapers have frequently been targeted by the government; in December, the editor of the Kibrisli paper was charged with defamation of the attorney general following the publication of a critical article. The case was pending at year's end. The newspaper with the most legal cases in the territory controlled by the Turkish authorities is the daily Afrika newspaper. If successfully applied, cases against Afrika's editor, Sener Levent, brought by the regime in the past years would amass to more than 2,000 years of imprisonment.
Cypriots have access to Greek and Turkish broadcasts. There are seven major dailies, two weekly newspapers, and six major magazines. However, most daily newspapers belong or are linked to political parties or other groups. A few private television and radio stations compete effectively with government-controlled stations, but only the state broadcaster has sufficient funds to produce its own programming. Ownership is highly concentrated. Approximately 33 percent of Cypriots are able to access the internet on a regular basis and are not subject to any known government restrictions on internet use.
[The numerical rating for Cyprus is based on conditions on the Greek side of the island.]
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