Freedom of the Press - Equatorial Guinea (2003)

Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 26
Political Influences: 32
Economic Pressures: 23
Total Score: 81

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 51
Religious Groups: Roman Catholic (predominant) (80 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Bioko [primarily Bubi, some Fernandinos], Rio Muni [primarily Fang], other
Capital: Malabo

Press freedom is constitutionally guaranteed, but the government tightly restricts this right in practice. All journalists are required to register with the Information Ministry, and in May strict accreditation procedures for all foreign correspondents were introduced. The 1992 press law authorizes government censorship of all publications. While mild criticism of public institutions is allowed, disparaging comments about the president or security forces are not tolerated and self-censorship is commonplace. In July, opposition leader Fabian Nseu Guema was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $45,000 for insulting the president on the Internet. A few small, independent newspapers publish sporadically, but nearly all print and broadcast media are state-run and tightly controlled. Although foreign publications have become more widely available in recent years, several journalists, political leaders, and association heads complained in 2002 of increasing difficulties in accessing the Internet. Police verbally threatened independent reporters covering the trial of opposition figures in May, and several were barred from the courtroom. The local journalists' association has been subjected to repeated harassment and closure, and in July its head, Pedro Nolasco Ndong, fled the country after receiving threats related to his reporting.

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