Brunei | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Freedoms of speech and of the press are significantly restricted under emergency laws that have been in effect since 1962. Legislation introduced in 2001 allows officials to shut down newspapers without showing cause and to fine and jail journalists who write or publish articles deemed "false and malicious." In addition, newspapers must apply for annual publishing permits, and noncitizens are required to obtain government approval before working for media outlets. The English-language daily News Express closed in 2002 after being sued successfully by a private law firm for defamation. The only local broadcast media are operated by the government-controlled Radio Television Brunei, whose coverage favors the regime, although foreign programs are available on cable or satellite channels. The largest daily, the Borneo Bulletin, practices self-censorship, though it does publish letters to the editor that criticize government policies. Internet use is growing and provides another avenue for citizens to express critical opinions. However, the Internet forum BruneiTalk was temporarily blocked in May 2003 after contributors discussed the business dealings of senior officials.