Table of African Countries
Legal Environment encompasses both an examination of the laws and regulations that could influence
media content as well as the government's inclination to use these laws and legal institutions in order to restrict the media's
ability to operate. Issues assessed include the positive impact of legal and constitutional guarantees for freedom of expression;
the potentially negative aspects of security legislation, the penal code and other criminal statutes; penalties for libel
and defamation; the existence of and ability to use Freedom of Information legislation; the independence of the judiciary
and of official media regulatory bodies; registration requirements for both media outlets and journalists; and the ability
of journalists' groups to operate freely.
Under the category
of Political Environment, the survey evaluates the degree of political control over the content of news media. Issues
examined in this category include the editorial independence of both the state-owned and privately-owned media; access to
information and sources; official censorship and self-censorship; the vibrancy of the media; the ability of both foreign and
local reporters to cover the news freely and without harassment; and the intimidation of journalists by the state or
other actors, including arbitrary detention and imprisonment, violent assaults, and other threats.
This includes the structure of media ownership; transparency and concentration of ownership; the costs of establishing media
as well as of production and distribution; the selective withholding of advertising or subsidies by the state or other actors;
the impact of corruption and bribery on content; and the extent to which the economic situation in a country impacts the development
of the media.
Total Score and Status:
A country's total score is based on the total of the three categories: a score of 0-30 places the country in the "Free" press
group, 31-60 in "Partly Free," and 61-100 in the "Not Free"
rating fell from Free to Partly Free to reflect the continued influence of the government over the broadcast media and of
the ruling party over the privately owned media, both of which have contributed to reports of growing self-censorship among
Gabon's status changed
from Partly Free to Not Free due to the continued crackdown on the private press and the government's persistent habit of
de-licensing private news organizations, as well as an overall countrywide worsening of the free speech environment.
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.
Kenya's status improved
from Not Free to Partly Free because the number of press freedom abuses has decreased and the media generally enjoy greater
editorial freedom under a new government elected in December 2002.
Sierra Leone's status
improved from Not Free to Partly Free, reflecting a continued improvement in the ability of media outlets to report freely
since the end of the civil conflict in January 2002.