RSF calls for release of Guinean journalist jailed for defamation
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Ibrahima Sadio Bah, a sports reporter who has been jailed for defaming the head of the Guinean Football Federation (FEGUIFOOT) although Guinea has decriminalized defamation.
Bah was arrested at the end of his trial in Conakry on 4 February, when a court sentenced him to six months in prison and a fine of 500,000 Guinean francs (40 euros) on a charge of defaming FEGUIFOOT president Mamadou Antonio Souaré.
He was convicted over an article for the Guinee7.com news website in which he reported accusations of corruption against Souaré by an unsuccessful rival candidate for the position of FEGUIFOOT president.
At the trial, the prosecution called on the court to acquit Bah on the grounds that no crime had been committed. But, against all expectation, the judge found him guilty and imposed the six-month jail term, with the result that Bah was taken from the courtroom to Conakry prison.
“We call for this journalist’s immediate and unconditional release and we urge the authorities to comply strictly with the media law’s provisions,” said Assane Diagne, the director of RSF’s West Africa office. “This sentence clearly constitutes an illegal circumvention of the media law, which abolished prison sentences for press offences, as the justice minister recently reiterated. And furthermore, nothing in what this journalist wrote could justify such a harsh punishment.”
Journalists are often arrested and taken into police custody in Guinea, although press offences have been decriminalized since 2010.
Three Radio Nostalgie journalists accused of defamation were given two-month suspended prison sentences under the penal code in January. After an outcry, the justice minister instructed the prosecutor’s office to appeal against the verdict.
In March 2020, the Conakry Live website administrator was arrested and held in police custody for several days for publishing an article about an alleged case of embezzlement by government officials.
Guinea is ranked 110th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.