The media landscape in Guinea in 2022 witnessed some significant investments that contributed to the development of the media industry in the country. Notable among them was the increase in the annual subsidy granted by the government to the Guinean press. The financial succour was increased from three to six billion Guinean francs.
The government (the military junta that has been in power since September 5, 2021), also, provided a new building to be used as the Press House for journalists. The building is a facility the government seized from a former high ranking public officer prosecuted for embezzlement of public funds.
The same junta government, also, provided journalists working in some provincial towns with regional press houses.
Unfortunately, the remarkable investments in the media sector did not translate or reflect in improving the safety of journalists’ conditions in the country. Although no journalist was prosecuted throughout the year, serial attacks against journalists continued across the country.
In 12 months, the union of media professionals of Guinea (SPPG) recorded 25 attacks against journalists in the exercise of their duty. Twenty of the attacks took place in Conakry, the capital, while the remaining five were recorded in some major cities including, Kankan, the first regional capital located about 600 km from Conakry, Kindia and Boké, two of Guinea’s largest cities.
The hostilities began in Kindia in May 2022, when journalist Mohamed M’Bemba Condé was assaulted by gendarmes while providing media coverage of some house demolition exercise.
In the same month, in Kankan, two journalists were attacked by law enforcement officers. The two journalists, Cheick Sekou Berthe and Ahmed Sekou Nabé, were attacked while covering the destruction of houses supposedly built on state-owned land.
In June 2022, a local government official detained Mamadou Sagnane, a journalist and correspondent for the general news website, mosaique.com.
Still in June, in the course of a live broadcast programme, a politician, Aboubacar Soumah, pounced on a journalist, Ahmed Camara, in the studio of Espace FM. The attack disrupted the broadcast of the highly patronised programme “Les Grandes Gueules.” The station later sued the politician.
The above narrations are but a few of the 25 attacks recorded in the in 2022 country report by the union of media professionals of Guinea. Unfortunately, almost all the perpetrators of these unlawful acts were state officials. Others were demonstrators and the media regulatory body. Not surprisingly, none of them has been prosecuted for the crimes committed against the victims.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) commends the SPPG for the report. We also commend the Guinean government for the investments made in the media industry. We, however, urge the government to address the violations against the journalists and media houses as a matter of urgency and bring the perpetrators to book.
The MFWA joins the SPPG in calling on the government to improve the relations between state security agencies and journalists and the civilian population as a whole. Additionally, we endorse the call on the High Authority for Communication (HAC), the judiciary, military authorities, international institutions and diplomatic missions in Guinea to work towards the consolidation of press freedom.