Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
The extreme restrictions on press freedom in Libya are unparalleled almost anywhere else in the world. Without democratic institutions, an independent judiciary, and political parties, there is no infrastructure to support voices that offer alternatives to the government line. The government owns and controls all media and prohibits discussion of a wide range of topics including criticism of Muammar al-Qadhafi and government policies. In October the official daily, Al-Zaf Al-Akhdar, was temporarily shut down after criticizing two other Arab states. Censorship is pervasive and effective. Vague laws restricting freedom of speech, strict licensing of journalists and publications, and an established system of informants has created an atmosphere of fear and mistrust such that few journalists dare to speak out. Telephones are tapped and academic speech is tightly controlled. Although foreign media are available, content is highly monitored and their sale or distribution is often prohibited. Despite the highly controversial nomination of Libya to chair the 2003 UN Human Rights Commission and the subsequent protest by and suspension of Reporters Sans Frontieres from that year's meeting, there may be reason for cautious optimism in the year to come. While domestic print and broadcast media are severely restricted, the Internet remains relatively free. Furthermore, following Qadhafi's landmark decision to dismantle weapons of mass destruction in December, his son Saif al-Islam Quaddaif was quoted saying that the government may follow this decision by allowing more political rights and greater press freedom.