Media pluralism is a reality in Guinea, and journalists enjoy a degree of freedom of expression. The public is waiting to see if the transitional government, installed after the September 2021 coup, will deliver on freedom of the press issues.
Guinea enjoys a politically diverse media landscape. The written press has flourished since the 1990s: of 65 existing weeklies, 10 appear regularly. They include satirical magazines such as Le Lynx and general news publications such as L’indépendant. The broadcast sector is made up of at least 60 radio stations and about a dozen television networks. Over the past 25 years, about 100 news sites have emerged. Nonetheless, the publication of critical and independent news remains difficult, especially when it challenges government officials or security forces.
When President Alpha Condé held office (2010-2021), the authorities regularly tried to censor media that criticized his rule. Since the transitional government took over, the situation seems to have improved. The prime minister has committed, in a meeting with RSF, to defend press freedom. But, due to a lack of transparency, journalists remain cautious.
The passage of a law on freedom of the press in 2010 eliminated prison sentences for press offences – a major step forward in the protection of journalists. However, the organic law on access to public information, which established the principle of transparency, has yet to go into effect despite its adoption in November 2020. And journalists are still being arrested and detained.
In Guinea, the government favours state-owned media over privately owned outlets, as evidenced by the priority access to official events and announcements granted to state media. Subsidies to private media are considered inadequate. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic worsened financial problems for the press.
Certain topics, such as homosexuality, polygamy and domestic violence are treated rather carefully, even with restraint, so as not to upset the prevailing moral code. Likewise, journalists who address opposition to female genital mutilation and forced marriage may be targeted by religious interest groups.
Journalists are often victims of violence and assault, especially during political demonstrations. Media professionals also receive death threats and are harassed on social networks. Those who commit these attacks are frequently law enforcement officers, political party militants and activists, the vast majority of whom face no consequences.