Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 25 (of 30)
Political Environment: 26 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 25 (of 30)
Total Score: 76 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.

  • Swaziland's absolute monarchy continued to exert strict state control over the media in 2008.

  • Freedom of expression is restricted, especially regarding political issues or matters concerning the royal family.

  • There are very few legal protections for journalists and media workers, and harsh defamation laws are used to stifle the press. In March, the brother of the king sued the independent Times of Swaziland newspaper for over US$200,000 for reporting on his involvement with a company that was allegedly smuggling cigarettes.

  • The government routinely warns against negative news coverage, and journalists are subject to harassment and assault by both state and nonstate actors.

  • A vaguely worded Suppression of Terrorism Act, passed by the parliament in May, was used by the government to harass, intimidate, and arrest journalists who criticized the government.

  • There are two major newspapers in circulation, one independent and the other generally progovernment. Both continued to criticize government corruption and inefficiency in 2008, but avoided negative coverage of the royal family.

  • The Swaziland Television Authority, which is both the state broadcaster and the industry regulator, dominates the airwaves.

  • There is one government-owned radio station and one independent radio station, Voice of the Church, which focuses on religious programming.

  • The government does not restrict internet-based media, though only 3.7 percent of the population used the internet in 2008.

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