RSF visits Guinea to promote press freedom during the transition
Less than two months after the dismissal of President Alpha Condé in a military coup on September 5, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has just carried out a two-day visit to Guinea to meet with journalists and provide the new authorities a list of ten recommendations to safeguard and promote freedom of the press in the decisive transition that has just begun.
Access to information, legal and institutional reforms, safety of journalists, independence of the media regulator, media support and media professionalization were among the topics discussed during RSF’s visit, conducted together with its partner organization in Guinea, Media Alliance for Human Rights (AMDH).
RSF met with journalists and representatives of media associations, the president of the Guinean media regulator, the High Authority for Communication (HAC), and several of its members, as well as the new civilian Prime Minister, Mohamed Béavogui, installed on October 6.
“Guinea is undoubtedly at a turning point in its history and its reconstruction – which Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, interim president, says he wants – will not be possible without real safeguards and concrete reforms so that journalists can freely carry out their news reporting work. and responsibly,said Arnaud Froger, head of RSF’s Africa desk, at a press conference in Conakry, the capital, yesterday. “We hope that the authorities will usher in a new era, in particular by adopting the recommendations submitted to them during this visit..”
“Guinea cannot make more mistakes”
Since the military coup, access to information and official events has proven difficult, especially for the private media. A raid by special forces on October 9 on a radio station owned by a former ally of the president also alarmed journalists. Representatives of journalists on public radio GTRwho protested against the lack of means at their disposal to do their job, were received two days ago by the military junta, the National Committee for Reconciliation and Development (CNRD).
AMDH President Chaikou Baldé added:Guinea can no longer make mistakes and its journalists will have an essential role to play in avoiding the injustices, corruption and mismanagement that have plagued them for too long..”
Guinea has fallen 23 places in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index since 2013 and now ranks 109th out of 180 countries.
RSF’s 10 recommendations for guaranteeing press freedom during Guinea’s transition:
- The president and the transitional government affirm the paramount importance of the freedom, independence and pluralism of journalists for democratic life and Guinean society.
- The authorities respect the right of journalists from public and private media to freely access information and events of national interest.
- The Guinean authorities undertake to respect the 2010 law on the freedom of the press abolishing prison sentences for press offenses, and at the same time to end the arbitrary arrests and imprisonment of journalists for press offences.
- The president undertakes to quickly promulgate the law on access to information passed in 2010.
- The government guarantees an open, free and safe environment for journalists. The police ensure the safety of journalists during demonstrations and do not confiscate their equipment.
- The government is committed to prosecuting those responsible for abuses against journalists in order to put an end to the climate of impunity that is detrimental to press freedom.
- As specified by law, the High Authority for Communication (HAC) guarantees respect for “the plurality and expression of currents of thought and opinion” in the media by providing “support and mediation to avoid abusive state control over the media”. It ensures respect for the freedom and independence of radio and television broadcasters by refraining from any decision not based on facts and law.
- The independence of the HAC vis-à-vis the government must be strengthened by, for example, modifying the method of appointing its members, by including more journalists from independent media and by not giving the country’s president the power to appoint more members.
- The government is creating a fund that allocates financial assistance in a transparent, fair and impartial way to the media so that they can continue to work despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their finances.
- The government is committed to developing and improving the training of journalists, including on-the-job training, to help meet their needs and promote independent and quality journalism.