Eritrea – how censorship works

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists

1. Eritrea

Leadership: President Isaias Afewerki, in power since 1993.

How censorship works: Only state media is allowed to disseminate news; the last accredited international correspondent was expelled in 2007. Even those working for the heavily censored state press live in constant fear of arrest for any report perceived as critical to the ruling party, or on suspicion that they leaked information outside the country. The last privately owned media outlets were suspended and their journalists jailed in 2001. Many remain behind bars; Eritrea has the most jailed journalists in Africa. None of those arrested are taken to court, and the fear of arrest has forced dozens of journalists into exile. Those in exile try to provide access to independent online news websites and radio broadcasts, but the opportunity to do so is limited because of signal jamming and tight online control by the sole state-run telecommunications company, EriTel. All mobile communications must go through EriTel, and all Internet service providers must use the government-controlled gateway. Access to the Internet is extremely limited and available only through slow dial-up connections. Less than 1 percent of the population goes online, according to U.N. International Telecommunication Union figures.

Lowlight: Five independent journalists who were arrested in 2001 may have died in prison, according to recent exiles. With limited access to information in Eritrea, CPJ cannot independently confirm the deaths and continues to list the journalists on its prison census as a means of holding the government accountable for their fate.

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