Reporters Without Borders is ending a five-day visit to Conakry today by giving a news conference at the Conakry Press Club to present its initial findings on the media situation in Guinea and to announce its recommendations to the country’s authorities.
The visiting Reporters Without Borders team consisted of the information director, Gilles Lordet, and the head of the Africa Desk, Ambroise Pierre. They met with representatives of the National Communication Council (CNC), the supreme court president, the head of the National Transitional Council (CNT), the justice minister, communication ministry officials, representatives of the ministry of territorial administration and decentralization, the government general secretary, leading media figures and several journalists’ associations.
Reporters Without Borders was pleased to find an atmosphere of calm that allows reporters to work unhindered, and a renewed vitality in the media following the 2010 presidential election, although journalism is still clearly a precarious form of employment. The media often voice opinions with much more freedom than in some other African countries.
The organization nonetheless found that no progress has been made on certain issues, which raises questions about the intention of President Alpha Condé’s government to consolidate press freedom. As the authorities begin a long and fragile transition that will hopefully lead to democracy, we hope to convince them of the importance of free speech as a democratic value.
Two laws affecting media, one creating the High Communication Authority (HAC) and one on access to information, were promulgated by Gen. Sékouba Konaté in June and December 2010. However, they have not yet been published in the official gazette and have not yet been implemented.
Reporters Without Borders has learned that three journalists were fired as news presenters on state-owned Radio Télévision Guinéenne (RTG) at the start of May. The organization wonders why, and calls for an explanation. The journalists themselves were not given any reason in writing.
With a view to the parliamentary elections that are to be held before the end of the year, Reporters Without Borders will provide Guinea’s journalists with copies of the Handbook for Journalists during Elections, which it produced in cooperation with the International Organization of the Francophonie.
During a meeting at the ministry of territorial administration and decentralization, Reporters Without Borders said it was important the security forces should respect the work of journalists who cover the election campaign and the polling.
In July, Reporters Without Borders will issue a report containing its analysis of media freedom in Guinea and all of its recommendations to the authorities and the media, in detail.
In the meantime, before leaving at the end of this trip, Reporters Without Borders:
- Invites President Condé to reaffirm his intention to guarantee press freedom and respect for media diversity.
- Asks the government general secretary to immediately send the 2010 laws to the supreme court so that it can confirm their constitutionality and thereby open the way for their publication in the official gazette.
- Urges the new authorities to ensure that RTG, which was praised for its even-handed coverage of the presidential election campaign, continues to be a public service media that is accessible to all political forces and is representative of Guinean society in its entirety.
- Urges the ministry of territorial administration and decentralization to take a clear position on respect for the freedom and safety of journalists and to make the security forces aware of the need to respect their work, especially during their coverage of elections.
- Asks the authorities to embark on a process of debate and discussion about the status of journalists in Guinea.
- Encourages journalists’ associations to collectively press for improvements in work conditions (including contracts and minimum pay).