The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press; however, the government did not respect these rights in practice. The government monopolized radio and television and used strict libel laws to intimidate and harass independent journalists. Journalists practiced self-censorship.
Freedom of Speech: Individuals who criticized the government publicly or privately sometimes suffered reprisals, such as harassment by police or the loss of jobs or contracts.
Freedom of Press: The government operated a daily newspaper, and there were two privately owned daily newspapers and three political party weeklies.
The government owned the only television station and all radio stations. The law allows for independent radio and television, and the government granted licenses for two independent radio stations during the year.
Violence and Harassment: On July 10, police confiscated the camera of the editor of opposition newspaper, Le Seychellois Hebdo, and deleted photos he had taken while reporting on an antinarcotics operation in Mont Fleuri.
In October a court convicted Le Nouveau Seychelles Weekly chief editor Ralph Volcere of contempt and sentenced him to “delivering an apology” to an Appeals Court judge. In December 2011 Volcere had been arrested and charged with contempt of court for allegedly discrediting the judge in a December 2011 newspaper article.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: The law allows the minister of information technology to prohibit the broadcast of any material believed to be against the “national interest” or “objectionable.” The law also requires telecommunications companies to submit subscriber information to the government. The law was not enforced during the year.
Libel Laws/National Security: The law provides restrictions “for protecting the reputation, rights, and freedoms of private lives of persons” and “in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health.” As a result civil lawsuits could be filed to penalize journalists for alleged libel.
The Media Commission, a media regulatory body created in 2010, had as members media professionals widely viewed to be ruling party supporters.
Opposition activists claimed that the government blocked access to their party Web sites. There also were reports that the government monitored e-mail and Internet chat rooms.
For example, on September 5, police arrested and detained Micheal Sabadin, a popular blogger on a social network site, after he posted pictures of a young soldier allegedly beaten by Nepalese contract law enforcement officers (see section 1. c.). Sabadin, who was also arrested in 2010 for his comments on a social network site, was released without charge.
According to 2011 International Telecommunication Union statistics, 43 percent of the population used the Internet.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
Opposition activists claimed that the government limited academic freedom by not allowing educators to reach senior positions in the academic bureaucracy without demonstrating at least nominal loyalty to the Parti Lepep. The government controlled faculty appointments to the Polytechnic, the University of Seychelles, and boards of educational institutions.