Eritrea | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2009

2009 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

  • Conditions for journalists and the overall media environment continued to be among the worst in the world in2008, following the 2001 government closure of all all privately owned print media.
  • The constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and of the press, has been ratified but never implemented.
  • Meanwhile, the 1996 Press Proclamation Law mandates that all media outlets must be owned by the government and requires all newspapers and journalists to be licensed. It also stipulates that publications must be submitted for government approval prior to release and prohibits reprinting articles from banned publications.
  • The country remained one of the worst jailers of journalists in the world, with 13 journalists in prison as of December 1, 2008, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Torture and unsanitary conditions are the norm in prisons where journalists are being held.
  • New waves of prison transfers were reported in December 2008. Among a group of 27 political prisoners moved to the Dhalak archipelago in the Red Sea were Mattewos Habteab, the editor and cofounder of Meqaleh, and Temesgen Gebreyesus, a sports journalist and member of the executive board of Keste Debena. Dawit Isaac, a Swedish-Eritrean journalist arrested in September 2001, was among the 113 political prisoners transferred to Embatkala jail in Ghinda. At year’s end he was in extremely poor health, and international bodies including the European Parliament have expressed concern about his condition.
  • Foreign journalists are not able to freely enter the country and are generally not welcome unless they agree to report favorably about the regime. A Swedish reporter, originally arrested in 2004, remained in jail at year’s end.
  • The three newspapers, one television station, and one radio station that operate in the country remain under state control.
  • The government requires all internet service providers to use government-controlled internet infrastructure and owns a large percentage of them. Authorities are believed to monitor e-mail communication, although internet use is extremely limited, with just over 2 percent of the population able to access this medium in 2008.