In recent years, Guinea has been recording an increasing number of freedom of expression violations including fatal attacks on demonstrators. The country recorded the highest number of freedom of expression violations in West Africa during the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 in the West Africa Freedom of Expression Monitor which is a quarterly report by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).
With about three months to end the year 2018, the MFWA and its Guinean partner organisation, AGEPI, are sad to note that Guinea continues to rank among the worst press freedom violators as evidenced by the following incidents:
January 31: Some unknown gunmen attacked the home of Abdoul Latif Diallo, Director of the site of depecheguinee.com. A several gunshots were fired at the home of the investigative journalist who was also threatened with death a few days before the attack.
March 13: A football club official physically assaulted and subsequently issued death threats against Djibril Firawa Toure of guineegoal.com in a stadium in Conakry during a match between Fello Stars and Wakiriya.
March 14: Some unknown thugs stormed the premises of the Hadafo Media Group and vandalised the window of their offices.
March 14: Some militants close to a political party attacked two journalists, Idrissa Barry and Djibril Kaback Camara, as the two arrived in Kaloum to cover a demonstration.
On the same day (March 14), a team of six journalists from Evasion TV and the Espace group were attacked at the Constantin Conakry junction by a group of protesters. The assailants set their vehicle on fire together with all the work equipment: cameras, recorders, phones and other gadgets on board.
April 25: A violent police intervention during a two-day demonstration resulted in the death of one person in the mining town of Boke, about 300 kilometers from Conakry. The protest was triggered by the death of a local commercial motorcyclist who was run over by a vehicle owned by a bauxite mining company.
June 20: The Minister of Justice of Guinea, Cheick Sako, abused his authority by ordering the detention of Mamadou Saliou Diallo, Director of the news site nouvelledeguinee.com, for three days. The action contravenes Guinea’s press law which excludes detention for press offenses.
September 5: Two young men aged 17 and 25 were shot and killed after security forces used live ammunition to disperse the residents of Boke and Kamsar who were protesting against power and water cuts.
The MFWA and AGEPI wish to express our deep concern about the violations of individual and collective rights guaranteed by the constitution and the organic law of 002 of June 22, 2010 regarding press freedom, especially as the country is gearing up for legislative and presidential polls.
Elections are a milestone democratic exercise requiring the full and effective participation of the media and all citizens. We are aware that elections come with a flurry of political and social activities, especially gatherings marches and demonstrations.
The present spate of violations of the rights of journalists and citizens is liable to create climate of widespread fear and psychosis which can lead to apathy towards the electoral process.
We therefore urge the Ministers of Interior to work closely with his counterparts from the Ministry of Justice, National Security and of Information to stem the rising tide of assault on journalists, media organisations and demonstrators.
We also urge the president of the HAC, civil society groups and the media professional associations to call a stakeholders’ forum to discuss and find solutions to the worsening state of freedom of expression in Guinea.
Moussa Iboun Conte