Guinea: Soldiers, thugs attack journalists

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) strongly condemns the attack on journalists from TV5 Monde, BT médias and, and calls on the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The state of safety of journalists in Guinea has not been impressive in the last three decades. Although the number of cases of press rights violations in 2023 is lower than in 2022, the complete impunity with which these violations are perpetrated is only worsening.

Recently, on February 16, 2023, in Bambeto, a suburb of the capital Conakry, a correspondent and photojournalist for TV5 Monde in Guinea, Abdourahmane Bah, was attacked by heavily armed soldiers, who also removed his camera’s memory card while he was covering a demonstration by the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), a political pressure group.

“They were all armed. They had Kalashnikovs in their hands. They began to insult the journalists with foul language. They removed the memory card that was in my camera on which the images are stored. Yet we were not filming them. A colleague even had a gun pointed at him. We were really scared,” explained Abdourahmane Bah.

On the same day, in the same neighbourhood of Bambeto, journalists Souleymane Bah of BT médias, Siradio Kaalan and Thierno Souleymane Diallo of the news website were attacked by some violent demonstrators who nearly lynched them. The journalists were saved by some young people from the same group who intervened and allowed them to flee.

These journalists got into trouble with law enforcement officers and thugs because they were providing media coverage during a call for a demonstration by the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) which was demanding the release of some “political prisoners”. The call to demonstrate by the FNDC, which was dissolved in August 2022 by the transitional government, was met with a heavy deployment of riot police, anti-crime brigades of the national gendarmerie and also soldiers of the BATA (Bataillon Autonome des Troupes Aéroportées), who were specifically unleashed to assist the police and gendarmerie at the request of Mory Condé, Minister of Local Government.

The violent repression of demonstrations by the police was based on a formal ban on demonstrations in public spaces issued by the junta on May 13, 2022.

The MFWA is deeply saddened by the suppression and violent repression of freedom of assembly and expression through protests. We urge the transitional government to do everything possible to ensure that the perpetrators of abuses against citizens are held accountable for their crimes.

The transitional government, civil society organizations and all key actors should give priority to constructive and peaceful dialogue.

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