On February 22, 2020, Alpha Ousmane Bah and Kossa Sow, who work with the news website Africaguinee.com and Espace FM radio, respectively, had gone to the Guinea-Senegal border near Bhoundou Fourdou, in the prefecture of Koundara to report on the plight of road transporters stranded on Senegalese side as a result of a ban on overland importation of goods by the Guinean authorities.
Despite presenting valid mission orders, which entitles them to cross the border, the journalists were stopped by security agents at the Guinea side. The police later escorted them to the office of the Prefect of the territory for clearance. The Prefect however said it was not within his authority to sign the mission order, and kept the journalists waiting unduly. Frustrated at the long wait they were made to endure, the journalists decided to leave and proceed with their assignment, so they took commercial motor cycles back to the border , leaving their vehicle at the Prefect’s premises.
“When we got to Bhoundou Fourdou on the Guinea side of the border with Senegal, I introduced myself as a journalist. The officers said ‘you, you are not passing, we have been ordered to return you. They collected our documents and put us in a vehicle to drop us off at the central police station in Koundara’,” Alpha Sow narrated.
The two journalists were thus arrested for about three hours before being released with caution not to continue their mission.
This harassment of the journalists amounts to censorship and an attack on press freedom. We therefore urge the Guinean authorities to investigate the incident and bring the culprits to book. The authorities must also take steps to ensure that the rights of journalists covering the blockade are not abused.