23 August 2013

Guinea: Presidential Security On Rampage Against Media

Photo: Maseco Conde/IRIN
Protesters demand change during a nationwide strike in Guinea (file photo).

Four days after attacking and closing down a radio station for covering a presidential rally, soldiers belonging to the security detail of President Alpha Conde, have attacked and brutalized a number of journalists belonging to privately-owned media organizations.

This recent assault occurred during President Conde's visit to Labe, a village about 450 kilometres north of Conakry, the capital, on August 20, 2013. The President's visit is part of the ruling party's (People's Rally of Guinea) campaign tour towards the upcoming parliamentary elections on September 24, 2013.

According to the MFWA's monitor, the angry soldiers who were heavily armed, charged at the journalists and beat up any one who tried to cover or report on the President's tour.

A reporter from the privately-owned Espace Television, Abdourahmane Diallo, was severely beaten and his camera seized by the soldiers.

"The red berets threw us out. They told us that we journalists are crooks and that what happened at Kankan shows that journalists are dangerous," narrated Ousmane Bah, one of the journalists.

The MFWA is saddened by this incident which is a clear abuse of power and authority in a country where press freedom, has for many years, been rated 'not free' by various international and regional press freedom indexes.

We once again call on the leadership of the RPG particularly President Conde, to urgently and publicly rebuke his security, as a personal commitment to press freedom and ongoing peace initiatives in the country.

State-perpetrated attacks against opposition demonstrations and the Guinean media are on the increase and in only this year hundreds of citizens and journalists have been harassed and violently attacked causing injuries to many while others are reported dead.

The MFWA urges your government to improve these ever-deteriorating conditions and safeguard the rights and safety of journalists as enshrined in the Constitution of Guinea.

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