RSF visits Guinea to promote press freedom, support blocked media outlets

Following a new government’s installation in Guinea after months of press freedom violations, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) visited the capital, Conakry, to share its press freedom concerns with the new authorities and to express its support and solidarity with media that are blocked or jammed.

What with four radio stations jammed, three TV channels removed from satellite TV packages and the general secretary of the main press union detained for more than a month, Guinea has seen an alarming series of violations of media freedom since late November 2023.

During its visit, the RSF delegation met with Amadou Oury Bah, who took over as prime minister after the previous government’s dissolution on 19 February, with information and communication minister Fana Soumah and with the president of the High Authority for Communication (HAC), Boubacar Yacine Diallo.

The RSF delegation, consisting of Sadibou Marong, the director of RSF’s bureau in Dakar, and advocacy chief Jeanne Lagarde, also met with Guinean media representatives, including those from radio stations, TV channels and news sites that have been or are still inaccessible, and with representatives of media associations and the Union of Press Professionals in Guinea (SPPG), whose general secretary, Sékou Jamal Pendessa, was detained for more than a month at the start of the year for calling for protests against the press freedom violations.

At a press conference that RSF organised with its local partner, the Media Alliance for Human Rights (AMDH), the heads of privately-owned media Djoma and FIM expressed their concerns and described the unprecedented crisis that their media have been experiencing for almost four months.

Kalil Oularé, the director general of Djoma Média – whose radio station and TV channel are currently blocked – denounced “the critical phase of history that the media in Guinea are going through” that was a result of a “desire to muzzle media by depriving them of their resources.” RSF assured them of its solidarity and support.

Jamming the signals of very popular radio stations and removing certain TV channels from satellite packages violate the right to diverse news and information in Guinea. We met with media impacted by these violations, and reiterated our full support to them. We reported and condemned these press freedom violations to the prime minister and asked him to provide urgent responses and to bring them to an end. We also issued concrete recommendations to promote quality, free and reliable journalism. The Guinean media landscape must regain its vitality, journalists must be able to work freely and responsibly, and jammed media must be able to resume operating in order to safeguard the public’s access to diverse news and information.

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

During the meeting with RSF, Prime Minister Bah expressed his “firm intention to continue the dialogue with media leaders” with “a conciliatory approach on both sides.” He also called on the media “to be more professional.”

Four radio stations – Evasion, Espace, Djoma and FIM – have been subject to constant jamming since the end of November, without any explanation being provided. In December, the media regulator (the HAC), requested the withdrawal of three privately-owned TV channels – Djoma TV, Evasion TV and Espace TV – from the Canal+ satellite packages for reasons of “national security” and “until further notice,” thereby depriving Guinea’s citizens of their right to diverse news and information.

The media affected by these measures have been forced to considerably reduce their programming or even cease operating, or to reduce the salaries of their journalists or even lay them off.

On 6 March, Prime Minister Bah met with representatives of media associations and the owners of several media, including those subjected to hostile measures, with aim of finding ways to “exit the crisis.” RSF welcomed this meeting as a step forward, expecting it to be followed by effects.

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