Freedom of the Press
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)
Despite constitutional guarantees, freedom of the press is restricted in Angola. In May, the government enacted a new Press Law that marks an improvement over previous legislation. The law ends the state monopoly on television broadcasting, calls for the creation of a public broadcaster that ensures the “right of citizens to inform, seek information, and be informed,” and allows journalists to use the truth defense in libel and defamation trials. However, the law includes several restrictive provisions and requires implementing legislation for the execution of some of the more positive reforms (including application for independent television and radio licenses). Libel of the president or his representatives is still a criminal offense, punishable by high fines and possibly imprisonment (the wording of the legislation is vague). Authorities can suspend a publication for up to a year if it has published three articles that lead to defamation convictions within a three-year period. Particularly in the interior of the country, the judicial system has little independence to enforce legislation guaranteeing press freedom. The Law on State Secrecy permits the government to classify information, at times unnecessarily, and those who publish classified information are prosecuted. Private media are often denied access to official information or events. The new Press Law authorizes the creation—pending legislation—of an independent National Council for Media Communication.
Although generally tolerant of criticism from private media, officials often pressure independent media to cover the government in a more favorable light. While less common than in previous years, arbitrary detention, harassment, and attacks on journalists continue to take place. For fear of reprisals, many journalists practice self-censorship. In July, Reporters Sans Frontieres condemned the murders of two Angolan journalists, though it was unclear whether their deaths were related to their media work. Foreign media are able to operate with fewer government restrictions. However, journalists must first secure work visas to enter the country and then must receive authorization from the Ministry of the Interior to meet government officials or travel within Angola.
The government continues to dominate both print and broadcast media. The largest media sources are state run and allow very little criticism of government officials. The official Radio Nacional de Angola is the only radio station with national coverage; the state also controls the only nonsatellite television station. While the new Press Law opens television broadcasting to the private sector and establishes principles prohibiting censorship and respecting freedom of the press and access to information sources, the effective promulgation and implementation of the law is another matter. Four private radio stations operate under government license from Luanda, the capital. As of 2006, authorities continued to prevent Radio Ecclesia, the outspoken Roman Catholic radio station, from broadcasting outside Luanda. The country’s seven private weeklies have low circulation and face financial constraints as well as high costs of production and distribution. Few outside the capital can afford private newspapers. Internet access is unrestricted and is available in several provincial capitals, though less than 1 percent of the population was able to make use of this new medium in 2006.