Guinea: Reporter beaten up by President Alpha Condé’s bodyguards
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns journalist Abdoul Malick Diallo’s severe beating on 25 June by members of the presidential guard and calls for the punishment of those responsible.
Diallo, who works for the weekly Le Populaire and the news website Aminata, was beaten repeatedly, first at the headquarters of RPG-Arc-en-Ciel, the ruling political party that President Alpha Condé continues to lead, and then at presidential guard headquarters, located inside the presidential palace.
“Such acts of arbitrary violence against journalists are absolutely unacceptable, especially when they go unpunished, as they often do.” RSF said.“We call on the authorities to identify and punish the presidential guard members responsible for this attack.”
Diallo went to the ruling party’s headquarter to cover its weekly general assembly and was stopped by a member of the presidential guard, a military unit known as the “Red Berets,” when he took a photo in the yard as President Condé was leaving.
After first asking him to delete the photo, the soldier demanded the memory card and finally seized the camera. Condé’s presence at the meeting was problematic because article 38 of the constitution prohibits the president from participating in political party activities.
It was at this point that several presidential guardsmen began beating Diallo and tearing his clothes. Then they threw him into a military vehicle, drove him to presidential guard headquarters and beat him even more severely there. They also insulted him in various ways including by means of derogatory references to his ethnicity.
Guinea’s media associations told RSF they are outraged by the repeated violence against journalists and by what they consider to be President Condé’s repeated violations of the constitution. Diallo and his newspaper plan to file a complaint about the beating in the next few days.
Journalists can pay dearly for criticism of the president. A court in Kankan (the capital of Haute Guinée province), located 650 km east of Conakry, fined Radio Milo FM journalist Malick Bouya Kébé 1 million Guinean francs (100 euros) on 22 June on a charge of “complicity in insulting the president.”
Kébé, who was not defended by a lawyer, was accused of failing to turn off the microphone when a guest began criticizing the speech that President Condé gave at a political rally in Conakry on 28 May. The speech was discussed on virtually all of the country’s privately-owned radio stations but it was only in Kankan, the ruling party’s stronghold, that a court took it upon itself to hold a trial over an on-the-air comment.
Guinea is ranked 108th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.