Pointing out that the journalist, Mouctar Bah, did everything possible to obtain the army’s version of the shooting before filing his story, RSF asks the HAC to allow Bah to continue working as an accredited reporter.
Bah is the correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Agence France-Presse. He is also RSF’s Guinea correspondent.
In response to a defence ministry complaint, the HAC announced that it had suspended Bah’s accreditation until February for “failing to verify information,” lack of “proof” and “lack of balance” in his report, which was carried by both RFI and AFP on 8 November.
Citing witnesses, including the mother of one of the victims, Bah reported that two men were killed by shots fired by soldiers – identifiable by their red berets – during clashes between protesters and security forces in a Conakry suburb on the evening of 7 November.
RSF has copies of the messages Bah sent and a list of the calls he made on 8 November seeking reactions from representatives of the security forces, including the army high command’s spokesperson, the defence ministry’s spokesperson and the ruling party’s spokesperson. He failed to get an official comment.
In its statement, the HAC said that no new request by Bah for accreditation would be considered “before the end of February 2019.”
Reached by RSF, HAC president Martine Condé claimed that Bah “acknowledged that he had no evidence” when he appeared before the HAC on 12 November. This is disputed by Bah and contradicted by his article.
“This journalist did his job by interviewing witnesses in order to establish the facts of the deadly events of the evening of 7 November,” said Head of RSF's Africa desk Arnaud Froger. “An experienced journalist known for his professionalism, he repeatedly tried to get the army’s version throughout the following day, without getting any response. We therefore call on the HAC to reconsider and to allow him to resume working.”
RFI issued a statement “deploring” the withdrawal of Bah’s accreditation and saying it was “astonished” to have received a HAC demand for a right of reply for the defence ministry, given that, in “repeated calls and messages,” Bah had tried to interview the Conakry police regional director and the ministry for security and civil protection’s spokesperson for RFI on 12 November.
Guinea is ranked 104th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.