Index 2024
114/ 180
Score : 50.56
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
113/ 180
Score : 52.29
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

Insecurity linked to the threat of terrorism, combined with political instability, compromises journalists’ access to information. The release of French journalist Olivier Dubois in 2023, after 711 days of captivity, was not a signal that the risks faced by media professionals in Mali were reduced.

Media landscape

The number of media outlets increased dramatically after the fall of the Moussa Traoré dictatorship in 1991. Mali now has around 200 newspapers, more than 500 radio stations and several dozen TV channels, including regional ones. These new media outlets compete with the state media – the radio and TV broadcaster ORTM and the newspaper L'Essor. The media’s news coverage and programming were really diverse until the permanent suspension of French media outlets RFI and France 24 in April 2022. Mikado FM radio, launched by the United Nations in June 2015 and hosted by local journalists, permanently shut down in November 2023. 

Political context

In theory, the media and journalists are free to cover the government, and the privately owned media are relatively independent. But, in practice, journalism has been made much more difficult by the political situation and the tougher stance taken by the ruling junta. The pressure for “patriotic” news coverage is growing. In November 2022, a journalist received serious threats for contributing to a report on the presence of the Russian Wagner militia in the country. The accreditation process for foreign journalists is very intrusive and threatens the confidentiality of their sources. In early 2022, a French journalist was deported within 24 hours after his arrival. The High Authority for Communication (HAC), Mali’s media regulator, and the state-owned media are completely subservient to government officials, who can dismiss those in charge.

Legal framework

The media’s activity is regulated by the press law, which determines the conditions in which they operate, though the law is vague and does not define media offences nor does it contain provisions regarding online media. A revision of this obsolete legal framework has been under way for several years. Journalists are awaiting reforms that will abolish prison sentences for press offences, institutionalise state aid for the media, and improve access to information and the identification of journalists and media professionals. The state-owned media continue to have easier access to state-held information than privately owned media. 

Economic context

Mali’s journalists and media outlets lead a precarious economic existence, which makes them vulnerable to influence and corruption. Their difficulties have been increased by a decline in advertising revenue due to the pandemic and the total cessation, in recent years, of government aid to the media.

Sociocultural context

Intercommunity conflicts, extremism and the presence of armed groups limit journalistic freedom, especially in northern and central Mali. The media are exposed to attacks based on gender, class and ethnicity. These sociocultural constraints lead to self-censorship.


The presence of armed groups and lack of security make working outside the capital, Bamako, extremely risky for journalists, as evidenced by the abduction of French reporter Olivier Dubois in Gao in April 2021, who was held hostage for nearly two years by the al-Qaeda–affiliated Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM). The murder of journalist  Abdoul Aziz Djibrilla and the abduction of two of his colleagues in November 2023 illustrate the dangers journalists face in northern Mali. Bamako-based reporter Birama Touré’s disappearance for seven years (and probable death in a secret state security prison) serve as a reminder that the state sometimes resorts to deadly violence to silence a journalist. Russia’s growing influence in Mali and the arrival of mercenaries from the Russian paramilitary company Wagner presage a rise in disinformation and darker days for journalists, as was the case after their deployment in the Central African Republic in 2018.