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 of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo continued to control Equatorial Guinea’s media with a heavy hand in 2009.
- Freedoms of expression and of the press are legally guaranteed, but these rights were ignored in practice.
- As in past years, the government relied on 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. Criticism of the president, his family, other high-ranking officials, and the security forces was not tolerated.
- Almost all local coverage was orchestrated or tightly controlled by the government, and there were no laws guaranteeing freedom of information.
- Local journalists were subject to systematic surveillance and frequently practiced self-censorship during the year.
- In June, Rodrigo Angue Nguema, the local correspondent for Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Agence France-Presse (AFP), was arrested in connection with articles alleging that the director of a private corporation, CEIBA Intercontinental, had embezzled money and fled the country. Nguema had publicly retracted the story after learning that his source had provided false information. Nguema spent four months in prison; the status of charges against him was unclear at year’s end.
- Local reporters and private publications were required to register through a prohibitively complex and bureaucratic process.
- Three technicians and a cameraman working for state media were fired in January for “insubordination” and “lack of enthusiasm,” reportedly for failing to sufficiently praise the ruling authorities.
- Journalists from major Spanish media organizations were denied visas to cover the November 2009 presidential election. In recent years, international reporters who managed to obtain accreditation have been monitored, threatened, and harassed by government officials upon arrival.
- The most influential medium is radio, but all domestic radio and television stations were owned directly by the government or the president’s family. Several newspapers were privately owned or owned by the country’s nominal opposition parties.
- Applications to open private radio stations have been pending for several years but remained unapproved. The Roman Catholic Church applied to establish a radio station in 2007, but the government had not granted authorization by the end of 2009.
- Uncensored satellite broadcasts were increasingly available to those who could afford the service.
- The government did not restrict internet access, although the authorities were believed to monitor citizens’ e-mail and internet use. The U.S. Department of State reported that the internet has replaced broadcast media as the primary medium for opposition views. According to International Telecommunication Unionstatistics for 2008, around 2 percent of residents used the internet.