Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 19
Political Influences: 25
Economic Pressures: 21
Total Score: 65
Life Expectancy: 40
Religious Groups: Indigenous beliefs (47 percent), Roman Catholic (38 percent), Protestant (15 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Ovimbundu (37 percent), Kimbundu (25 percent), Bakongo (13 percent), Mestico (2 percent), European (1 percent), other (22 percent)
Media restrictions have become less stringent following the 2002 cease-fire between the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA)-led government and UNITA rebels. However, despite constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press, the press law restricts that freedom, and government pledges to reform media legislation have not yet been realized. Libel of the president or his representatives is a criminal offense punishable by high fines or imprisonment. Authorities can suspend a publication for up to a year if it has published three articles that lead to defamation convictions within a three-year period. Particularly in the interior of the country, the judicial system has little independence to enforce legislation guaranteeing press freedom. However, in February the Supreme Court in Luanda overturned the 2004 defamation conviction of the editor of the independent weekly Semanario Angolense. The Law on State Secrecy permits the government to classify information, at times unnecessarily, and those who publish classified information are prosecuted. Private media are often denied access to official information or events. A special committee has policy and censorship authority over the media.
Although the government generally tolerates criticism from private media, 2005 saw several high-ranking government officials pressure independent media to cover the government in a more favorable light. In April, Deputy Minister of Communications Miguel de Carvalho warned journalists at the state-run newspaper Jornal de Angola (the country's only daily) not to criticize the government or give equal coverage to opposition parties; although he was later repudiated by the minister of communications, the Media Institute of Southern Africa found that positive coverage of the government and the ruling MPLA in Jornal de Angola increased significantly in the following months. In October, National Assembly president Roberto de Almeida – the second most powerful person in Angolan politics – accused independent media of fomenting a return to civil war. Although less common than in previous years, arbitrary detention, harassment, and attacks on journalists continued to take place. For fear of reprisals, many journalists practice self-censorship. Foreign media are able to operate with fewer government restrictions. However, journalists must first secure work visas to enter the country and then must receive authorization from the Ministry of the Interior to meet government officials or travel within Angola.
The government continues to dominate both print and broadcast media. The largest media sources are state run and allow very little criticism of government officials. The official Radio Nacional de Angola (RNA) is the only radio station with national coverage; the state also controls the only non-satellite television station. In March, RNA suspended a popular news program after one of the program's hosts voiced severe criticism of the government's appeal for support from international donors. In July, journalist Celso Amaral was found guilty of mismanaging approximately $42,500 in state funds while running RNA in the province of Huila and was sentenced to 10 years in prison; Amaral's lawyers claimed the sentence was politically motivated. Four private radio stations operate under government license from Luanda, the capital. The Catholic Church's Radio Ecclesia, a source of independent news, is frequently harassed by the government; in 2005, the station continued to be barred from extending its broadcasts to other areas of the country. The country's seven private weeklies have low circulation and face financial constraints as well as high costs of production and distribution. Few outside the capital can afford private newspapers. Internet access is unrestricted and is available in several provincial capitals.
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