Freedom of the Press - Equatorial Guinea (2004)

Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 26
Political Influences: 35
Economic Pressures: 28
Total Score: 89

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 54
Religious Groups: Roman Catholic (predominant)
Ethnic Groups: Bioko [primarily Bubi, some Fernandinos], Rio Muni [primarily Fang], other
Capital: Malabo

Freedom of expression and of the press is protected under the constitution but the government usually limits the exercise thereof, causing journalists to toil under extremely difficult conditions, with self-censorship a matter of course. Critical coverage of the president or of the security forces often draws reprisals, which range from imprisonment without charge to harassment, beatings, and even forced exile. Police and law enforcement representatives routinely demand bribes of newspaper publishers, threatening to revoke their licenses for imaginary violations of the press laws, and members of the presidential clan are known to harass outspoken journalists. The press corps is noticeably dominated by pro-government opinion-makers; of the half-dozen papers that are published regularly only one, run by the political opposition, is openly critical of authorities. The pervading atmosphere of political censorship has compelled many publications to focus on culture, entertainment, and sports gossip to avoid the government's wrath. With applications for private radio stations pending since the early 1990s, the government dominates the airwaves with the official Radio Malabo; the only existing "private" broadcaster, Radio and Television Asonga, is owned by the president's son, a government minister. The press corps is extremely small, with a grand total of no more than 70 members, who are under legal obligation to register with the ministry of information, which has the power to de-register journalists and apply government censorship wherever it sees fit. In November, police arrested Agence France-Presse correspondent Rodrigo Angue Nguema for an article on rumored plans for a military coup d'etat. Although the government forcefully denied the report, Nguema was detained without charge for close to two weeks. Three other journalists suffered similar ordeals during the year.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.