The latest stringent judicial controls issued against two Guinean journalists is a form of illegal judicial harassment. This according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), after Souleymane Diallo, the director of Lynx-Lance Media Group based in Guinea's capital of Conakry, was placed under judicial control on August 19, 2019. He was arrested after a July 31 interview on the Lynx FM phone-in programme Œil du lynx (Eye of the Lynx).
According to local media, the crack-down came after US-based political activist Doussou Condé accused a government official of embezzling money when she was interviewed on the station. Her accusation relates to allowances that were supposed to be paid to Guinean soldiers. The soldiers are part of the UN peace-keeping mission in volatile regions in northern Mali.
Guinean soldiers are part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali. Image: MINUSMA Harandane Dicko
The African Editors Forum (TAEF) has condemned the onerous bail restrictions imposed on Diallo, a member of the forum. The forum regards Diallo, who is a founding member of the Forum of West African Media Leaders, as one of African media’s leading lights.
In a statement released in August 21, TAEF says Diallo was arrested for doing his job as a journalist and editor. “TAEF calls on the government of Guinea to remove all restrictions on Diallo and to respect all freedoms, especially freedom of the media and freedom of expression.” He is required to report to the police twice a week.
Diallo’s colleague Boubacar Alghassimou Diallo, the host of the Œil du Lynx show, has also been placed under judicial control for the interview with Condé. Alghassimou Diallo is also Lynx FM’s general manager.
According to Guineenews.org reports, Alghassimou Diallo was summoned to appear at the Court of First Instance in Kaloum on August 19. According to RSF he was placed under judicial control after appearing in court on August 21 in Conakry. This was based on a charge of “complicity in the dissemination of data likely to disturb public security”.
Image: Azoca Bah (Facebook)
Assane Diagne, the head of RSF’s West Africa office, has described these actions by Guinean authorities as worrying “We are deeply concerned about this new form of censorship, which is a blatant violation of the law in a country where press offences have been decriminalised since 2010,” Diagne explained.
Diagne says authorities use cyber-crime laws in an attempt to flout the decriminalisation of press offences. “Using the cyber-crime law to charge the journalists is just a subterfuge in order to be able to continue harassing independent media,” he explained.
RSF reports that Alghassimou Diallo’s lawyer, Salifou Béavogui, confirmed that he has been banned from leaving the Conakry area without the judge’s permission and is expected to report to court every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The judicial control conditions also bar him from presenting Œil du lynx until further notice.