Private radio stations in Guinea on 29 August 2019, made a two-hour synergy broadcast to denounce recent intimidation and abuse of journalists by the police and the judiciary.
Media managers, journalists and a lawyer formed the panel for the programme which was carried live by all radio stations and news websites across the country, with extensive tweets by media professionals and press freedom activists in Guinea.
“Today the Guinean press is going through very difficult times as journalists are subjected to a lot of harassment and judicial persecution because judges or prosecutors have decided to use the Cyber Security Law 002 instead of the Press Freedom Law 003, any time a press offense is committed,” complained Amadou Tam Camara, president of the AGUIPEL (Guinean association of online media).
The protest broadcast was the second show of rage against recent acts of intimidation against the media in the country. On August 26, 2019, media professionals from the private media stormed the premises of the media regulatory body, Haute Autorite de la Communication (HAC), where they held a sit-in to register their anger at the spate of arrests, detentions and intimidating summoning of journalists.
Chanting slogans such as “Let’s take back our freedom” “Corrupt justice system” and “Judges Petrified”, among others, the journalists denounced their abusers and called on the HAC to assume its constitutional responsibility to protect the media and journalists.
Boubacar Algassimou Diallo, radio presenter with Lynx FM, is the latest victim of the reported campaign of harassment. He is under judicial control pending trial for “complicity in defamation and undermining national security” together with Souleymane Diallo, founder and managing director of the station. The managing director, however,, had his judicial control lifted on August 29, 2019.
Lansana Camara, editor of the news website conakrylive.info, was detained on March 26 on the orders of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The journalist spent eight days in detention and is still facing prosecution for defamation.
Habib Marouane Kamara, a journalist with Nostalgie FM, was also on July 10, hauled before a judge on defamation charges after Aboubacar Makissa Camara, Director of the National Tax Department of Guinea, complained about a Facebook post by the journalist.
Mohamed Bangoura, director of publication of the news website mosaiqueguinee.com, was summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department of the Police and interrogated for five hours over an article written by an opposition politician published by his media outlet. Bangoura has since been standing trial on charges of insulting the Head of State.
The MFW stands in solidarity with the media in Guinea in their struggle to redeem their freedom which is guaranteed by the national constitution. While we do not condone unprofessional journalism, we are also deeply concerned about the serial harassment of journalists through frivolous lawsuits and charges under the criminal code rather than the media-friendly press code.
Guinea is heading into elections later this next year and the least state actors can do is to collaborate with the media to ensure effective information and education of the citizens in order leading successful and peaceful elections.