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Guinea-Bissau

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech, including for the press; however, there were reports the government did not always respect this right.

Press and Media, Including Online Media: Independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction. There were several private newspapers in addition to the government-owned newspaper No Pintcha, but the state-owned printing house published all of them.

Violence and Harassment: The government took no steps to preserve the safety and independence of media or to prosecute individuals who threatened journalists. During the parliamentary elections in March, supporters of the political party Movement for a Democratic Alternation harassed a journalist. The journalists’ union publicly condemned the incident.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: There were no cases of censorship in public media, but political considerations often caused journalists to self-censor news content.

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored online communications without appropriate legal authority.

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

The constitution and law provide for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association; the government, however, failed to respect these rights.

In October opposition parties protested the organization of the presidential election. During the protest a body was found at an opposition party headquarters under unclear circumstances, with protesters claiming the death resulted from police actions. The Ministry of Interior was investigating the case at year’s end.

In May 2018 the Movement of Nonconforming Citizens filed with the Economic Community of West African States Community Court of Justice a complaint against the government for violation of freedom of peaceful protest. At year’s end the case continued.

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement

The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

Not Applicable.

The country hosted thousands of long-term refugees and asylum seekers from Senegal’s Casamance Region. Many residents maintain ethnic and family ties on both sides of the country’s poorly marked northern border with the Casamance, rendering the nationality of many individuals in the region unclear.

Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.

Access to Asylum: The law provides for granting of asylum or refugee status. The government did not grant refugee status or asylum during the year, and there were no reported requests for either. The UNHCR office in Bissau facilitated the issuance of refugee cards.

Durable Solutions: In December 2018 President Jose Mario Vaz granted citizenship to more than 7,000 linguistically and culturally assimilated refugees living in the country for more than 25 years. The decree is in conformity with international agreements on migration and asylum. At year’s end the government had issued official identification to more than 5,000 of these individuals. Most of these refugees were originally from Senegal’s Casamance Region, with minorities from Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Not Applicable.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future