31 out of 173 in the latest worldwide index
Area: 1,240,190 sq. km.
Head of state: Amadou Toumani Touré, since 2002
Mali is not only one of Africa’s most exemplary democracies but also one of the most respectful of press freedom on the continent. But this record was compromised by a few isolated cases of assaults on journalists.
The law in Mali is certainly not perfect, the press is poor and politicians are sometimes irritable. But press freedom is a reality. With around 30 weeklies and half a dozen dailies, the written press provides a good reflection of the country’s political diversity. Stronger still is the network of more than 130 radios, local or national, to be found in each small village - a record in French-speaking Africa. Mali was a pioneer, with the first free radio established in 1991, and its radio stations are now seen as among the best on the continent.
One incident cast a shadow on this picture. Journalists in 2007 had the nerve to publish an essay assignment given by a Malian teacher to his pupils, involving a head of state and his mistress. They were punished with brief spells in prison.