Index 2024
89/ 180
Score : 56.73
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
112/ 180
Score : 52.44
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

The freedom of expression of journalists has declined sharply in recent years. The media landscape is diversified but marked by the absence of large, viable news organisations.

Media landscape

Thanks to the liberalisation of the broadcasting sector in 1997, the country has seen a boom in radio stations. At least 70 are operating in Benin, where they are the most popular medium. Some 15 privately owned TV channels operate alongside the state-owned broadcasters, grouped within the Radio and Television Office of Benin (ORTB). The country has about 100 newspapers, including the government daily La Nation, founded in 1969, as well as privately owned ones, including Le Matin, Le Matinal, Fraternité and La Nouvelle Tribune. News sites and a wire service, the Agence Bénin Presse (ABP), complete the media landscape, which includes around 320 outlets. 

Political context

In a country known for its strong tradition of free speech dating back to the 1990s, press freedom has suffered major setbacks in recent years. The government has a decisive influence over the appointment of those in charge of the state-owned media and the High Authority for Audiovisual and Communication (HAAC), the media regulator. The ORTB, especially its television channels, is required to relay the government’s message, while media that support the opposition are under strong pressure. Many media outlets refrain from openly criticising the government in order to avoid a shutdown by the HAAC. The authorities also influence news coverage by means of so-called partnership contracts that reward the media for covering government activities. Guideline memos tell the editorial staff what angles to prioritise in their coverage.

Legal framework

Press freedom is guaranteed by Benin’s constitution, which was revised in 2019, and is protected by the HAAC organic law. The Information and Communication Code, adopted in 2015, establishes the conditions for practicing journalism. Although the code removed prison sentences for press offences and guarantees the right of access to state-held information, it is routinely bypassed to attack journalists. Since 2018, the Digital Law has been used to convict online journalists. In 2023, an online radio journalist who broadcast an investigative report on summary executions was given a one-year suspended prison sentence and was fined the equivalent of 300 euros on a charge of "electronic dissemination of false information affecting public tranquillity, and complicity in dissemination." 

Economic context

The media landscape is marked by the absence of big media companies. Most media are not economically viable and are faced with a tight advertising market. The government often uses its control over the allocation of advertising contracts to deprive critical media. While a collective agreement came into force in 2017, it is not enforced and journalists live in precarious conditions, exposing them to corruption and undermining their independence.


In theory, journalists and media outlets are free to cover all matters of public interest, but in practice, the government has, in recent years, strengthened its grip on the sector. Since Patrice Talon became president in 2016, journalists have had limited access to data relating to the country’s security situation, internally displaced persons, and mining contracts.


The deterioration of the security situation in the north of the country, where several armed attacks have taken place in recent years, has resulted in repeated press freedom violations, including the detention and deportation of journalists. In 2022 and 2023, at least seven journalists were arrested while reporting in the northwest of the country. 

Abuses in real time in Benin

Killed since 1st January 2024
0 journalists
0 media workers
Detained as of today
0 journalists
0 media workers