Panama | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2009

2009 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

  • Freedom of the press is protected by the law and for the most respected in practice.
  • Amendments to the criminal code that were approved in 2008 abolished Article 175, which had allowed criminal and civil libel cases against journalists.
  • However, two new articles of the code allow journalists to be prosecuted for violating vaguely worded rules against publicizing private communications and documents, and set serious penalties for leaking government information to the press.
  • The newspaper El Periodico was driven out of business after a court ordered the seizure of its assets in September. The judgment, for which an appeal was pending at year’s end, came in response to the newspaper’s publication of the tax returns of a prominent businessman.
  • The risk of legal repercussions and judicial intimidation have served to promote self-censorship among Panamanian journalists.
  • Despite the existence of transparency legislation, access to public information remains limited.
  • No physical attacks on the media were reported in 2008.
  • All Panamanian media outlets are privately owned, with the exception of one state-owned television network and one radio station.
  • The government reportedly attempts to manipulate news coverage by buying advertising space only from friendly media outlets.
  • There are no government restrictions on the internet, which was accessed by nearly 23 percent of the population in 2008.