Guinea Alert: Managing Editor unlawfully arrested and detained for allegedly libelling official

Criminal Investigations Department officers picked up Louis Esperant Celestin, the managing editor of the weekly newspaper Journal d’Afrique, on September 3, 2014.

The MFWA’s correspondent in Guinea reported that the officers pushed Celestin into a vehicle and sent him to the office of the Deputy Prosecutor of the Kaloum County Court. There, he was interrogated for about four hours regarding a complaint made by the Director-General of the Post and Telecommunication Regulatory Agency (L’Autorité de Régulation des Postes et Télécommunications-ARPT), Moustapha Mamy Diaby. He was then released without prejudice and handed over to his lawyer.

Diaby has accused Celestin of libelling him through the press following a publication by Célestin’s on June 16. The said report alleged that Diaby had diverted 44 billion Guinean Francs (about 6million dollars) meant for the ARPT.

“I used a report which did not state whether it was not for immediate release. This document produced by the Ministry of Telecommunications stated that this amount went missing under the management of Moustapha Mami Diaby. Now he has lodged a complaint against me.” Celestin told our correspondent.

The MFWA condemns the arrest and detention of Celestin as it is unlawful under the Guinea’s new legislation on the press, Law No. 002, which was passed in 2010 by the National Transitional Council and assented to by the President of the Republic in 2013. The law decriminalizes breaches of the press laws. This law stipulates that a journalist cannot be arrested and detained for breaches committed through the press. For libel, slander, and ancillary offences committed through the press, the offending journalist incurs a fine without facing arrest or imprisonment.

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