The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) firmly denounces recent attacks on journalists in Guinea, and calls on the Guinean authorities to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.
On June 22, 2023, Saliou Benjamin Camara, a journalist of Guineesouverain.com, was verbally abused by police officers and forcibly taken to the Central Police Station of Kaloum, an urban sub-prefecture in the capital Conakry. As part of the alleged attacks, the officers reportedly seized his equipment while he was interviewing a migrant during a protest by Guinean migrants who returned from Tunisia. Saliou was subsequently detained for about three hours before his legal support arrived, prompting the officers to return his confiscated equipment.
On June 16, 2023, Lamine Kaba, a photojournalist of Espace TV, was assaulted by guards of a public prosecutor at the High Court of Coyah in western Guinea. He was on assignment covering a case related to a land dispute that was under litigation when the attack happened. Lamine and fellow journalist, Michel Ouamouno, from Ledjely TV had previously documented images of damaged houses prior to the prosecutor’s arrival.
As the prosecutor’s vehicle pulled up, one of the guards directed the journalists to halt their photography and forcibly took Lamine’s camera after assaulting him. Meanwhile, Michel was compelled to delete his recorded footage and images.
On May 17, 2023, Mamadou Maka Diallo and Aliou Maci Diallo, reporters of the news websites Guinée114.com and Laguineeinfo.com respectively, were attacked by a soldier. The assailant was allegedly furious that the journalists were covering the peaceful protest march by the Forces Vives de Guinée (FVG).
The two reporters were on a motorbike when the soldier approached and asked them what they were looking for in the area, claiming that there were no demonstrations on that day.
“Get the hell out of here,” he is reported to have said, before hitting Aliou Maci Diallo on the head.
“The blow could have been deadly if he wasn’t wearing a helmet. It was a violent blow, which was directed at my colleague in a hateful manner,” Mamadou Maka Diallo told the MFWA.
The soldier also allegedly insulted the two journalists and threatened to puncture the rear tyre of their motorbike.
The Forces Vives de Guinée (FVG) had called on the population to demonstrate against the junta ruling Guinea since 2021. To thwart this demonstration, the Guinean Minister of Local Government, Condé Mory, had requested that the army be deployed. However, this was an illegal move, because in Guinea, the Transition Charter and all the defunct constitutions assign the task of maintaining order to the police and the national gendarmerie; not the army. Heavily armed, the soldiers were deployed to the suburbs of Conakry after being transported in equally heavily armed bulletproof vehicles. Apparently, they were not comfortable about the press covering their deployment and were nervous about being seen by journalists.
The Syndicat des professionnelles de la presse de Guinée condemned the attack in a statement.
“The SPPG alerts the entire community to the fact that in recent days. We see many signs of a climate of muzzling of journalists and independent media in Guinea.”
On May 9, 2023, a few days before the attack on the two journalists, Ibrahima Foulamory Bah, another journalist who works with the news website Le courrier was detained by two soldiers who had been posted at the fence of the office of the Prime minister.
Foulamory was covering a demonstration by a group of candidates for a civil service entrance examination when he was brutally arrested by soldiers who seized his phone and took him to a station set up inside the Prime Minister’s office.
In another incident on April 8, 2023, police officers from a municipal assembly in Ratoma violently attacked Sayon Camara, a journalist with the Africa Guinée news website, while he was covering the clearance of certain rights of way in Conakry. The journalist duly displayed his press badge but was attacked by a local councilman who tried to seize his phone before handing him over to the police who beat him. The journalist was taken to a police station where he was detained and stripped of his badge.
A few days before that, on April 3, 2023, Sékou le Bourgeois Camara, a host of Radio Espace Kankan, was also arrested by a soldier who had him confined to a police station, even though the journalist had a badge which clearly identified him as a pressman on his press jacket.
In all of these cases, the authorities have not taken any action to punish the perpetrators.
The MFWA reiterates its condemnation of these wanton attacks on journalists and reminds the Government of Transition in Guinea of its duty to uphold the rule of law and protect all constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, including the freedom of the press and the right to demonstrate.