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)
- The 30-year-old regime ofPresident Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo continued to control Equatorial Guinea’s media with a heavy hand in 2008.
- Freedoms of expression and of the press are legally guaranteed, but these rights are ignored in practice.
- As in past years, the government used its extensive powers under the Law on the Press, Publishing, and Audiovisual Media to severely restrict press freedom, making the country one of the world’s most censored media environments. Critical reporting about the president or security forces is not tolerated.
- Almost all local coverage is orchestrated or tightly controlled by the government, and there are no laws guaranteeing freedom of information.
- Local journalists were subject to systematic surveillance and frequently practiced self-censorship during the year.
- International reporters who managed to obtain accreditation were constantly monitored, threatened, and harassed by government officials upon arrival. The government refused to issue visas to several Spanish journalists from major media organizations to cover the May 2008 elections.
- The most influential medium is radio, but all domestic radio and television stations are owned directly by the government or by the president’s family.
- Applications to open private radio stations have been pending for several years but remain unapproved. A 2007 application by the Roman Catholic Church to operate a radio station was still pending at the end of 2008.
- Uncensored satellite broadcasts were increasingly available to those who could afford the service.
- The government does not restrict internet access, although the authorities are believed to monitor citizens’ e-mail and internet use. Owing to high poverty levels, less than 2 percent of the population was able to access the internet in 2008. The U.S. Department of State reported that more and more people were abandoning the heavily censored traditional media and turning to the internet—especially at internet cafes in the major cities—to get opposition views.