The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) strongly condemns the illegal arrest, interrogation and intimidation of journalist Mamadou Sagnane in Dinguiraye, (located about 545 km north of Guinea’s capital, Conakry).
On June, 16, 2022, Mamadou Sagnane, a correspondent for the website Mosaiqueguinee.com and journalist with the community radio station in Dinguiraye was detained by gendarmes at the office of Colonel Karamoko Oumar Boké Camara, Military Mayor of the city.
He was interrogated at the administrative block of the city council headquarters by two gendarmes from 2 Pm to 7 Pm and was not allowed to leave until 8 Pm.
The authorities accused Mr. Sagnane of inciting the youth of the city to riot through a press statement he had read on the community radio station where he works. The statement, issued by the youth of Dinguiraye, narrated the death of Ousmane Berete, a commercial motor bicycle rider, after a confrontation with the motor traffic police. The incident reportedly occurred at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Dinguiraye.
In the statement dated June 8, 2022, the youth association which issued it in Dinguiraye invited all the young people of the city to a meeting the next day to discuss how to provide assistance to the family of the deceased commercial motor bicycle rider. The statement was then forwarded to the Director of the rural radio station in Dinguiraye with the understanding that it would be broadcast in French, Pular and Malinké (all languages spoken in the community). the Director, would then direct Mamadou Sagnane to read the statement in which the youth also condemned the police brutality.
However, on the next day, some angry youths from Siguiri, a neighbouring community, accompanied by others from Dinguiraye, took to the streets in riots. They set up barricades in the town, ransacked and burned down the premises of the territorial gendarmerie and the central police station of Dinguiraye (headquarters of the road police) in protest of the death of Ousmane Berete.
The gendarmerie subsequently arrested Sagnane, accusing him of inciting the violence with the statement he read on radio. Colonel Karamoko Boké Camara called the journalist on the phone and asked him to report at the city council offices. On arrival, Sagnane was immediately handed over to the investigating officers who held him for hours and then released him with a caveat that he will be recalled whenever necessary.
“They questioned me for five hours. I told them that it was my boss, the director general of Dinguiraye community radio, who asked me to read the communiqué on air. And that’s what I did. They linked this statement to the violence. And I said I read what my superiors told me to read,” Mamadou Sagnane told the MFWA.
The MFWA strongly condemns the conduct of the youth who ransacked the police station. We equally denounce the detention of Sagnane. We also call on the authorities to avoid abusing the rights of the dozens of youths who were arrested in connection with the riots.