Guinea-Bissau: reporter beaten by policeman while covering Covid protest
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the severe beating that a radio reporter received from a police officer on Janauary 28 in Guinea-Bissau while covering a protest by school students against the government’s decision to close schools as part of its latest measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the information gathered by RSF, Souleymane Seidy, a reporter for privately-owned Bombolom FM, was interviewing participants in a peaceful march by several hundred students in the capital, Bissau, when the police officer intervened.
Although Seidy had his press card with him, the police officer ordered him to stay away from the protesters. The policeman then began hitting Seidy and finally arrested him. Seidy spent several hours in police custody before being released.
The previous day, Seidy had participated in a Bombolom FM programme about President Umaro Embalo Cissoko’s decision to close both state and private schools for a month.
“We firmly condemn this unacceptable arrest and attack on a journalist who was just doing his job,” said Assane Diagne, the director of RSF’s West Africa office. “The need to combat this pandemic does not constitute grounds for persecuting reporters, whose role is more important than ever. We urge the Guinea-Bissau authorities to investigate this attack and to punish the officer responsible.”
RSF has logged more than 100 press freedom violations in sub-Saharan African since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Abuses against journalists and media outlets, which surged at the height of the initial public health crisis from March to May, have been registered in nearly two thirds of the region’s 48 countries.
Guinea-Bissau is ranked 94th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.