Following the release of the 2023 World Freedom of the Press Index by Reporters without Borders (RSF), the Government of Seychelles has expressed its disappointment with RSF on the ranking of Seychelles, given that Seychelles is a nation where freedom of expression, gathering and in particular the freedom of the media are totally respected, recognized and encouraged.
The Government is particularly shocked because since coming into office, it has done its utmost to protect the media by first of all removing criminal defamation in the country’s statute books to protect journalists, given the state media, the SBC total editorial and programme independence, allowed the private media to operate without any hindrance and the police have even accommodated a request by the Association of Media Practitioners Seychelles (AMPS) to organise a demonstration in Victoria against the harassment of journalists by Social Media.
The Government feels that while it is promoting and encouraging responsible journalism and ethical reporting, the RSF failed to understand and analyse what was really happening in Seychelles, but rather depended only on the opinion of certain individuals that do not aspire to such standards. The government will continue to raise the bar so that the noble profession of journalism through the media continues to help in nation building while giving our people the truth and therefore allowing everyone to take on their responsibilities as good citizens.
The state media in Seychelles, the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation(SBC) has total independence to plan its programmes without the Government telling it what to do or say. Complaints by both Government and civilians are received by the Seychelles Broadcasting Board and dealt with accordingly. This is a major development under this administration compared to previous years where at one point the wife of the President sat as the Chairperson of the SBC Board and the work of journalists was tightly controlled and edited to promote the position of government and where no programmes gave citizens the right to express themselves. Today this has changed completely and various programmes allow citizens to express themselves openly, knowing that there will be no legal or political repercussions.
It is important to note that under the current administration, the state financed media house even offers political parties free airtime for programmes prepared by themselves monthly both on TV and radio. The deliberations of the National Assembly are aired live without being edited and all political activities are reported on during prime time news.
The private media houses also enjoy the same freedom. Since the new administration is in office no journalist has been prosecuted by the Government, no journalist has been charged, detained or is in prison. Media houses are totally free to do their work according to their internal policies. Even media houses which are against the government do their work in total freedom.
In order to ensure dialogue and promote greater communication, the President has also met with AMPS to discuss their issues in order to address them with the aim of extending the Government’s support towards their cause. To this extent Government and the Media Association stand by each other in fighting cyber harassment through the Social Media.
The ranking will not stop the Government in enhancing media freedom and in respecting the rights of all its citizens. We know that we are going in the right direction and that as we promote democracy and the rule of law, these basic freedoms will be further respected and enhanced.
The Government invites RSF for a frank and direct dialogue to address all issues, given that the last report was compiled with no communication with Government, but based solely on the opinion of individuals the RSF decided to contact. The Government will maintain an open door policy at all times.
Seychelles is committed to promoting the freedom of the media and calls on all media practitioners and media houses to do their best to achieve the highest standards possible in journalism by promoting the truth while abiding to the upmost ethical standards.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of State House – Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles.