Press freedom reports

Reporters without Borders, in its 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, ranks the Comoros 96th out of 169.

The authorities have a tight hold on the media. Journalists risk arrest and detention, and newspapers have been suspended and radio stations taken off air over reports deemed offensive to the government.

In its 2006 annual report, the human rights body Freedom House said newspapers exercised "extensive self-censorship".

The International Press Institute’s 2006 World Press Review observed that “free and fair presidential elections this year in the Comoros Islands were encouraging evidence that after 31 years of civil unrest and cyclical coups, the country is now moving in the right direction.”

At the same time, the future for the Comorian press is uncertain: “In the past, the media’s fortunes have risen and fallen with the political situation, particularly during the 19 coups the country has endured since it won its independence from France in 1975. During these periods of instability, the media have often been persecuted for their reporting on the activities of the military and aspiring dictators. In the lead-up to the presidential elections, there were renewed fears that the media would suffer.” Several radio stations were harassed or attacked, and broadcasting equipment was confiscated.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) notes a case where a reporter writing an article about discontent among army officers for L’Archipel was detained on the charge of “divulging military secrets.”

According to the Freedom House’s 2006 Map of Press Freedom, recent violations of press freedom have “increased the incentive for self-censorship among a press that has routinely been reluctant to criticize the government. Nonetheless, the largest impediment to a free-flowing press is not government interference, but a lack of resources in a severely impoverished society.”