The constitution and law generally provide for freedom of speech and the press; however, growing economic pressures led journalists to practice self censorship. Direct government efforts to influence the media were rarely reported except at the local level.
There were reports that local officials influenced media coverage. There were also reports of commercial interests using advertising revenue to influence press coverage and prevent the publication of negative articles, and that the media in turn threatened to publish negative stories about businesses to extort money from them.
Journalists reported practicing self-censorship. They expressed the fear of being singled out for staffing cuts if they were to write articles critical of advertisers.
The law provides for no less than six months’ and no more than five years’ imprisonment for hate speech. Hate speech committed over the Internet is punishable by six months’ to three years’ imprisonment.
Individuals may freely criticize the government publicly or privately without reprisal.
A wide range of private newspapers and magazines was published without government interference. Media ownership was not fully transparent, enabling political or other interests to conceal their influence on media outlets.