Freedom of the Press

Liberia

Liberia

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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

79

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

34

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

23

President Charles Taylor's regime continues to sharply restrict the operation of the press, disregarding the constitutional right to freedom of expression. In February, the government introduced a state of emergency that broadened its powers to clamp down on dissent, announcing that those who criticized the decree would be "dealt with" under the new emergency laws. Authorities shut down The Analyst, a leading independent daily, several times during 2002 under the new legislation. Individual journalists continued to be the targets of official harassment, persistent surveillance, and arbitrary arrest and detention. The most prominent, Hassan Bility, editor of The Analyst, was arrested in June, labeled an "unlawful combatant," and held incommunicado without charge or trial. Following diplomatic intervention from the United States, he was released in December into the custody of the U.S. embassy in Monrovia. The president owns or controls nearly all print and broadcast media, as well as Liberia's only printing press. Critical news outlets have been threatened by a withdrawal of advertising or have been prosecuted for tax evasion. In this restrictive environment, many journalists practice self-censorship.