A magistrate’s court in Conakry has sentenced a journalist of a private radio station to a fine of US $ 2,500 for defamation, a penalty critics say exceeds the limit set by law.
Moussa Yero Bah, journalist and women rights activist, was on January 3, 2019 fined following claims of defamation by Mamadou Oury Balde, the general manager of a security company, during a live a programme on Espace FM, based in Conakry.
The journalist, who was a guest on the show in March 2018, had alleged that Balde had used his influence to silence his domestic servant whom he had allegedly abused sexually. The servant, who is pregnant, allegedly from the sexual assault, has been convicted and imprisoned after Balde filed a complaint that she had stolen his money.
At the end of the proceedings, the court upheld the suit by Balde and imposed damages in the sum of $2,500 against the journalist.
Lawyers for the journalist have indicated that they will appeal the decision. They argue it is a violation of law L / 2010 / 002 / CNT of 22 June 2010 which stipulates that monetary penalty for defamation by the media should not exceed 10,000,000 Guinean Francs or the equivalent of $1,100.
Press freedom organisations in Guinea have also condemned the fine as excessive. The media fraternity in the country are mobilising funds to support the cost of the journalist’s legal battle.
The MFWA also denounces the excessive fine and calls on judicial authorities to uphold the law and protect press freedom.