Expression

Freedom of the press is protected under Article 26 the Constitution. In practice, the Press and Communication Code undermines these rights by imposing punishments including steep fines and suspension of media licences for the publication of information that is “at variance with reality”. Defamation is a criminal offence and defamation of public officials is also punishable by fines. Under the Penal Code, offences by the media are also punishable by jail sentences of between six months and two years. Although a vibrant press exists, the High Authority of Broadcasting and Communications has the power to suspend media and grant licences and has, in the past, disciplined journalists who are critical of the state. In 2013, a day before elections, the regulator suspended critical radio station Legende FM for a month and later closed it completely saying it incited public violence. Journalists experience judicial harassment and intimidation. In 2012 for example, Max Savi Carmel, a journalist with bi-monthly publication Tribune, was interrogated for six hours and pressured by police to drop a story he was working on. Internet penetration and mobile access are rapidly increasing with access free at public universities.