Guinea-Bissau | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Guinea-Bissau made the transition from "Not Free" to "Partly Free" in 2004 following the ousting of President Kumba Yala, and improvements that were made in the legal and political environment of the media that year were further consolidated in 2005. The law provides for freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and for the second consecutive year, the government largely respected these rights in practice. The transitional administration of Henrique Rosa relaxed many of the former legal restrictions on freedom of expression that had existed under Yala, and overt media censorship has largely ceased. Successful multiparty elections in September-judged to be free and fair by international observers-brought to power Joao Bernado "Nino" Vieira, the former military ruler and recent exile. Soon after the elections, while the transitional government was still in power, the directors of the national radio and television stations were dismissed by the government in a move that is believed to be linked to their positive coverage of Vieira's candidacy over Rosa's. They were replaced by Ricardo Semedo-a single director for both offices-following the government's claim that the former directors "lacked direction."

As in the previous year, there were no reports of journalists being harassed or arrested and no reports of the government shuttering media outlets. However, in December the police entered the studios of Radio Kasumai, a community radio station in the turbulent northern town of Sao Domingos on the border with Senegal's Casamance region, and ordered the station closed because callers to the station's on-air programs had complained of police extortion. The station resumed broadcasting several days later after it received police assurances of noninterference following a meeting between the police and local community leaders.

While the country's only television station remains state run, three private radio stations, Bombolom FM, Radio Pindjiguiti, and Voice of Quelele, once again compete with the state-run radio broadcaster, Radio Nacional, as well as the Portuguese-owned public broadcaster, RTP Africa. Three privately run newspapers-Correio de Bissau, Fraskera, and Banobero-operate alongside the state-owned weekly No Pintcha. Owing to considerable financial constraints and government control of the sole functioning printing house, newspapers publish only sporadically, a problem that this year led to inadequate election coverage of the candidates. The impact of such financial constraints has been particularly severe for the state-owned media because of a lack of government ability to earmark adequate operational funding, as well as the fact that private advertising funds are directed primarily toward the private media sector. There were no reports in 2005 of government interference with access to the internet, though usage is lower than 2 percent nationwide.