Lithuania | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Lithuania

Lithuania

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

18

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

7

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

6

As freedom of expression is guaranteed by Article 25 of Lithuania's constitution, journalists are generally able to work without censorship. However, an ongoing case of harassment by state authorities against the independent daily newspaper Respublika calls into doubt government respect for press freedom. Soon after the January 2003 presidential elections, Respublika reported that state security forces had been instructed to use any means necessary to silence the press before the 2004 parliamentary elections. When the government responded with an investigation of the daily by tax authorities, evidence emerged that state security services are under orders to monitor Respublika. Libel remains a crime in Lithuania, and judicial authorities may order a journalist to reveal confidential sources if such disclosure is necessary to protect other constitutional values. In March, the head of Lithuania's public television network resigned in protest against constant pressure from a small but prominent group of government officials. Access to the Internet is generally unrestricted, although in June state security forces seized the server of the pro-Chechen independence Web site Kavkaz-Center, apparently at the insistence of the Russian government. In September, the Second District Court at Vilnius ruled that the security service had overstepped its authority and ordered the return of the server. However, the court also stated that the site must remove certain material that promoted national and religious hatred, which is prohibited by Lithuanian law.