RSF urges Guinea’s new government to restore access to censored media

Welcoming the dialogue that Guinea’s new prime minister, Amadou Oury Bah, has begun with media professionals, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges his government to guarantee press freedom by restoring access to media outlets that have been jammed and rendered inaccessible for more than three months.

The hopes of Guinea’s media have revived after Amadou Oury Bah met on 6 March with representatives of media associations and the owners of several media – including two that have been the victim of restrictions and jamming – in order to seek solutions to “emerge from the crisis” that began more than three months ago.

Bah said a working commission has been established and he undertook to bring together “the actors involved with a view to finding an appropriate solution.” He also called for more “responsibility” from the media in the way they handle the news.

RSF points out Guinea’s authorities, including the media regulator, the High Authority for Communication (HAC), have been subjecting the media to arbitrary and unjustified censorship, and calls for swift action by the new government.

This meeting with the media is a positive sign and must be followed by effects. The new government must now undertake to safeguard press freedom, in particular by immediately restoring access to media that have been blocked for more than three months. The four jammed radio stations and three TV channels that were removed from several TV supply services have sustained unprecedented economic damage. These media must be able to resume operating in order to guarantee the right of access to diverse news and information in Guinea.

Sadibou Marong
Director of RSF’s Sub-Saharan Africa bureau

On the day of the meeting, the Hadafo Media group issued a statement announcing that it was laying off 70% of its staff for three months. It said that in 17 years of existence, the group had never “had to take a decision of such magnitude,” which was a “direct consequence of the restrictions imposed on our media by the transition authorities for the past several months.” The Hadafo Media group includes Espace FM radio and the Espace TV channel, which have been subject to broadcasting restrictions since the end of November and mid-December, respectively.

The signals of the privately-owned radio stations FIM FM, Espace FM, Djoma FM and Évasion have been jammed without explanation since the end of November, while the Espace TV, Djoma TV and Évasion TV channels have been unavailable via the Canal+ and StarTimes satellite packages at the HAC’s behest since December.

Now in very poor economic shape, these media have been broadcasting part-time on social media, having chosen to stop producing some of their programmes due to a lack of resources. FIM FM, a radio station owned by Fréquence Info Médias (FIM), has had to lay off all its journalists.

FIM deputy programme director Ibrahima Lincoln Soumah, who is also a commentator on the programme “Mirador,” told RSF: “Even when we wanted to broadcast our programmes on social media, they cut our connection.”

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