If proof were needed that de-criminalising press offences were beneficial to democracy, this country provided it. Under pressure from local journalists and international organisations, the Central African Republic, land of coups and guerrilla conflict, did just this at the end of 2004 and is better for it. The presidential election took place against a tense but responsible climate. The media were both protected and under surveillance. There were none of the abuses that often occur in the region. Judicial procedure was observed in defamation cases and editors of newspapers stopped working when they were threatened with imprisonment.
However political hatreds have a way of lasting and Central African journalists were sometimes targeted by “short-tempered” elements within the army.