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)
Status change explanation: Namibia's rating improved from Partly Free to Free because it is widely viewed as one of the most media-friendly countries in Africa and no serious abuses against journalists have been reported for several years.
Namibia's constitution guarantees freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. The country's press is considered one of the freest on the continent. Independent media routinely criticize the government, though government pressure and sensitivity to negative coverage has led to some self-censorship. Eight newspapers are in circulation, six of which are privately owned. There are at least eight private radio stations and two private television stations that broadcast in English and German. A subscription satellite television service broadcasts CNN, BBC, and a range of South African and international news and entertainment programs. There are no government restrictions on the Internet, and several publications have popular Web sites. Private radio stations and newspapers usually operate without official interference, but reporters for state-run media have been subjected to indirect and direct pressure to avoid reporting on controversial topics. While many journalists insist that the state-run Namibia Broadcasting Corporation enjoys complete freedom to criticize the government, others believe that it is biased toward the ruling party. Although President Sam Nujoma appointed himself minister of information and broadcasting for a period in 2004, no significant problems were experienced during his tenure.
The most serious media restrictions in Namibia have been isolated incidents in which the government has canceled advertisements in a few newspapers for their supposedly critical coverage. In addition, some restrictions have been sought in media coverage of the mass trials of accused secessionists from the Caprivi region. Two journalists with Die Republikein, an Afrikaans daily newspaper, were detained for four hours by armed Special Field Force members while on assignment in northern Namibia. Their vehicle was also confiscated, although it was later returned. The National Society for Human Rights has asked the inspector-general of the police to bring charges against officers in the case.