Swaziland | 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)


Freedom of expression is severely restricted, especially regarding political issues or matters concerning the royal family. Legislation bans the publication of any criticism of the monarchy, and journalists are occasionally prosecuted on criminal defamation charges. As a result, self-censorship is widely practiced. Journalists at Swaziland's only independent daily reported that they have trouble gaining access to official information. In August, MISA-Swaziland reported on government plans to impose stiff penalties on journalists found guilty of contravening a proposed secrecy act. The government controls almost all broadcast media and finances a daily newspaper, which both criticizes and defends government policies. On April 8, 2003, the new information minister, Abednego Ntshangase, announced that state-run broadcast media would not be permitted to "cover anything that has a negative bearing on government." This ban, which applies to Swaziland's only news-carrying radio channels and only television station, was condemned by the International Press Institute (IPI). However, broadcast and print media from South Africa are available. Reporters continue to experience some intimidation and physical harassment at the hands of police, security forces, and other societal actors. The government withholds advertising from the independent press and occasionally proscribes publications without providing adequate justification.