Freedom of the Press - Guinea-Bissau (2004)
|Publication Date||28 April 2004|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press - Guinea-Bissau (2004), 28 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4734510c23.html [accessed 18 October 2017]|
Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 17
Political Influences: 27
Economic Pressures: 19
Total Score: 63
Life Expectancy: 45
Religious Groups: Indigenous beliefs (50 percent), Muslim (45 percent), Christian (5 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Balanta (30 percent), Fula (20 percent), Manjaca (14 percent), Mandinga (13 percent), Papel (7 percent), other (16 percent)
Status change explanation: Guinea-Bissau's rating moved from Partly Free to Not Free to reflect an increase in press freedom violations by the government against both the private and public media in an attempt to silence opposition voices related to the elections.
Constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and of the press are not well respected in practice. The months leading up to the expected general elections, ending with the coup of September 2003, were characterized by increased government crackdowns on the media. Numerous arrests and acts of official censorship began with the December 2002 banning of the Portuguese station, Radiotelevisao Portuguesa, and the expulsion of its bureau chief amid claims that the station tarnished the image of the country. February 2003 witnessed the closing of the country's main private and opposition radio station, Bombolom FM. A few weeks earlier, Radio Bombolom had broadcast a debate in which Joao Vaz Mane, Vice President of the Guinean Human Rights League, criticized the president. Mane was arrested the next day and detained for three weeks without charge. The government also acted to assault and suspend state-run Radio Difusao Nacional journalist Ensa Seidi for his coverage of former Prime Minister Francisco Fadul's return to Guinea-Bissau to compete in the scheduled elections. Journalists, particularly those in the state-run print and broadcast media, continued to practice self-censorship. A few private newspapers and radio stations are in operation in addition to the government-run weekly newspapers and radio and television stations. Due to financial constraints and government control of the sole printing house, newspapers are published sporadically.