Laos | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Press freedom is provided for by the constitution but is severely restricted in practice. Provisions in the penal code broadly forbid inciting disorder, slandering the state, distorting state policies, or disseminating information or opinions that weaken the state. In addition, the law subjects journalists who do not file "constructive reports" or who attempt to "obstruct" the ruling party's work to jail terms of up to 15 years. Foreign journalists must apply for special visas and are restricted in their activities, and foreign news reports appearing in Lao publications are subject to censorship. The government owns all newspapers and broadcast media, and tightly controls their content. Authorities also control all domestic Internet servers, and sporadically monitor e-mail and block access to some political Web sites. In October, authorities opened the first government-run Internet center in Vientiane.