Press freedom still fragile despite the old dictator’s departure
The installation of a new president, João Lourenço, in September 2017 ended four decades of rule by the Santos family, but the few TV channels, the radio stations and the 20 or so newspapers and magazines are still very largely controlled or influenced by the government and ruling party. A series of laws passed in 2016 facilitate criminal defamation suits and force TV and radio stations to broadcast presidential addresses to the nation. Nonetheless, there have been encouraging signs. One was the acquittal of two investigative journalists in 2018 on the grounds that they had an “obligation to report with complete objectivity”. The other was the publication of opposition op-eds in state newspapers. But the media continue to push for the decriminalisation of press offences without success. And censorship and self-censorship, a hangover from the years of repression under the former regime, are also still widespread. This was seen in the state media’s failure to report that opposition parliamentarians held up yellow cards during the president’s address to the nation in October 2019.This tendency became even more accentuated in 2020, when the state took effective control of several leading media outlets that already had public funding. The exorbitant cost of radio and TV broadcast licences holds back pluralism and prevents the emergence of new media actors. The security forces have meanwhile gone back to old bad habits, briefly arresting several journalists and attacking others, including one reporter who was bitten by a dog that the police set on him while he was carrying out interviews. Only a handful of radio stations and websites manage to produce independent and critical reporting. But they are kept under surveillance and sometimes subjected to cyber-attacks. This was the case with Correio Angolense, an independent website that posted a story claiming that the president’s chief of staff had embezzled millions of dollars.
106 in 2020
33.92 in 2020