A main justification for press freedom is that free media will act as a watchdog over the government. While we would expect democracies to have free media and autocracies to have government-controlled media, some democracies have government-controlled media, and some autocracies have free media. How this mismatch between regime type and media system influences government behavior is a puzzle worth exploring. One of the most widely criticized government behaviors is the violation of physical integrity rights. The question posed here is, how does media freedom affect government respect for these rights? In this article, I theorize that the relationship between media freedom and government respect for human rights differs, depending on the presence of democratic institutions. The findings support my premise. Specifically, the influence of media freedom on government respect for human rights is negative for the most autocratic regimes and positive for only the most democratic regimes.