A journalist and director of privately-owned weekly Donos da Bola was on August 5, 2014, fined FCFA 6.5 million (about US$13,300) by the country’s regional tribunal, Tribunal Régional de Bissau (TRB).
Pedro Luca Mendes de Carvalho is also to pay the fine and an additional FCFA 750,000 (about US$1,600) as costs within two months or in default serve a four-year jail term.
According to the MFWA’s correspondent in the country, the sentence is as a result of a publication by the newspaper in December 2013, headlined: “Abdu Mane and Paulo Sanha (the Attorney-General and Chief Justice respectively) want to push JOMAV (nickname of the President, José Mário Vaz) out of politics”.
The said publication indicated that the country’s current president, José Mário Vaz, who was the Minister of Finance in the government of Carlos Gomes Junior, was being questioned by the Attorney-General and Chief Justice over an alleged diversion of 12 million dollars provided by the Republic of Angola as budgetary support to Guinea-Bissau.
According to the correspondent, out of the damages awarded by the court, FCFA 5 million is to be paid to the Ministry of Social Communication for training of journalists in media law. The remaining FCFA 1.5 million is to be paid as compensation to the Attorney-General and the Chief Justice.
The MFWA is saddened by this development as it has the tendency to cripple the media who are crucial in the country’s efforts towards democratic rule and development. While we commend the move by the Ministry of Social Communication to train journalists, it should not be done at the expense of the media themselves.
We urge the media in the country to be more professional in their work by reporting accurate and factual issues.