The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) welcomes the order given by the Supreme Court in Guinea on November 28, 2019 for the reopening of two radio stations that have been shut down by the country’s media regulator, Haute Autorite de la Communication (HAC).
On October 30, 2019, the HAC withdrew the licences of Radio Continental FM and Ado FM, all based in Conakry. The action followed a complaint by the Ministry of Information and Communication that the two radio stations had illegally installed their transmitters on the facilities of the state broadcaster, Radio Télévision Guinéenne (RTG). As a result of the licence withdrawal, the radio stations have since been shut.
While the Managers of the affected media outlets accepted the charges brought against them, they insisted that the withdrawal of their licenses was an excessive penalty. They therefore took the matter to the Supreme Court to seek redress.
In its preliminary decision delivered on November 28, 2019, the court ordered a stay of execution of the regulator’s decision until the final determination of the case. This means the HAC’s decision should not take effect until the case before the court is settled.
In view of the crucial role the media plays in promoting democracy, transparency and accountability, their closure as a punitive measure must be a last resort and in extreme cases.
In this regard, the MFWA views the court’s decision as progressive and protective of press freedom and the right to information of the thousands of Guineans who depend on the two radio stations to keep themselves informed and to contribute to public discourse on important national issues affecting their lives.
While we applaud the decision of the court, we wish to reiterate our earlier call on the parties involved to seek an amicable settlement of the impasse.