Panama | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2002

2002 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Independent news and commentary appear on scores of radio and television stations, as well as in numerous daily and weekly publications. Self-censorship is markedly increasing, however, because of the proliferation of "insult" (descato) charges brought against journalists. By November, some 70 criminal defamation cases involving journalists were pending. These restrictive laws to curb press criticism were enacted during the dictatorship of General Antonio Noriega, and never repealed. Also troublesome was draft legislation intended to regulate journalism. The bills under consideration in the legislative assembly deal with the mandatory licensing of journalists, limitations on the possibility of foreign journalists to work in national media, and the creation of an entity to accredit journalists and punish their "misconduct" against a code of ethics.