Equatorial Guinea | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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

89

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

35

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

28

Freedom of expression and of the press is protected under the constitution but the government usually limits the exercise thereof, causing journalists to toil under extremely difficult conditions, with self-censorship a matter of course. Critical coverage of the president or of the security forces often draws reprisals, which range from imprisonment without charge to harassment, beatings, and even forced exile. Police and law enforcement representatives routinely demand bribes of newspaper publishers, threatening to revoke their licenses for imaginary violations of the press laws, and members of the presidential clan are known to harass outspoken journalists. The press corps is noticeably dominated by pro-government opinion-makers; of the half-dozen papers that are published regularly only one, run by the political opposition, is openly critical of authorities. The pervading atmosphere of political censorship has compelled many publications to focus on culture, entertainment, and sports gossip to avoid the government's wrath. With applications for private radio stations pending since the early 1990s, the government dominates the airwaves with the official Radio Malabo; the only existing "private" broadcaster, Radio and Television Asonga, is owned by the president's son, a government minister. The press corps is extremely small, with a grand total of no more than 70 members, who are under legal obligation to register with the ministry of information, which has the power to de-register journalists and apply government censorship wherever it sees fit. In November, police arrested Agence France-Presse correspondent Rodrigo Angue Nguema for an article on rumored plans for a military coup d'etat. Although the government forcefully denied the report, Nguema was detained without charge for close to two weeks. Three other journalists suffered similar ordeals during the year.