Reacting to the arrest and prosecution of 13 journalists following the dispersal of a peaceful rally, Fabien Offner, researcher at Amnesty International’s regional office for West and Central Africa, said:
“This latest crackdown on a rally bears witness to the regime’s implacable determination to enforce its decision of 13 May 2022 banning all rallies and to silence the individuals and media outlets that are denouncing the repeated attacks on the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
“Thirteen journalists were arbitrarily arrested on the morning of 16 October and taken first to the central police station and then to the Court of First Instance in Kaloum (Conakry). The General Secretary of the Guinean Union of Press Professionals (SPPPG) was among them. They were taking part in a peaceful demonstration organized by the SPPG to demand the lifting of restrictions on access to certain news websites, which they blame on the authorities. They were charged with ‘participating in an unlawful assembly on a public highway’.
Amnesty International considers the authorities’ general ban on demonstrations to be contrary to the international human rights standards that are binding upon Guinea and calls for the charges against these journalists, who were released at the end of the day on 16 October, to be dropped. We call on the authorities to guarantee the right to freedom of expression and to restore the right to peaceful assembly.Fabien Offner, researcher at Amnesty International's regional office for West and Central Africa
This latest violation of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression comes five months after access to social media and news websites began to be restricted, from 17 May onwards, the day when Forces Vives de Guinée had called a rally. The Minister for Post, Telecommunications and the Digital Economy blamed this disruption on a technical problem with the undersea cable connecting the country to the internet.
In response, professional press organizations decided to take a number of actions including ‘a boycott of all activities of the government and other bodies of the Transition until restrictions are lifted’, a ‘press-free day’ and a ‘protest march’ (which was, in the end, cancelled).
The Guinéematin.com news website has been inaccessible since 15 August 2023, without explanation. The Minister for Post, Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, who is also the government spokesperson, denied being behind the disruption but was unable to provide any clarification.