Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 20 (of 30)
Political Environment: 25 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 20 (of 30)
Total Score: 65 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.

  • Press freedom in Zambia lost ground in 2008 as the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), a watchdog organization, reported a sharp rise in the number of abuses surrounding the October presidential by-election and criticized the slow pace of media law reforms.

  • Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the constitution, but the relevant language can be broadly interpreted.

  • Libel cases can be pursued in either a civil or a criminal court, and defamation of the president is explicitly a criminal offense. A 2007 defamation case filed by a cabinet official against a private newspaper, the Zambian Watchdog, was still unresolved at the end of 2008.

  • Government officials continued to harass journalists in 2008. In August, Zambia's ambassador to Libya threatened journalists from the government-controlled Zambia Daily Mail with dismissal for refusing to publish his articles. In November, radio announcer Father Frank Bwalya was arrested for questioning the fairness of the presidential by-election.

  • In addition to the Zambia Daily Mail, the government controls the Times of Zambia, and several private newspapers operate freely.

  • A number of private radio and television stations broadcast alongside state-owned stations, and international outlets are not restricted. The local private stations carry little political coverage, as the government uses the libel and security laws to discourage it.

  • The government does not restrict internet access, though only 4.3 percent of the population used the medium in 2008.

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