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Guinea20 February 2007

Call for lifting of stage of siege after week-long news blackout

Reporters Without Borders today called on the Guinean authorities to lift the state of siege that was proclaimed on 12 February, which has had the effect of imposing a complete news blackout by preventing newspapers and radio stations from working and by blocking Internet access.

“Maintaining public order by gagging the news media is a dangerous measure, one that encourages rumours and violent clashes with the authorities,” the press freedom organisation said. “After illegally punishing Conakry’s journalists, the army should lift the de facto censorship measures that prevent them from working freely and jeopardise the survival of the news media.”

Only one music radio station, Nostalgie FM, is still broadcasting in Conakry. Liberté FM was forcibly closed on the morning of 12 February by a presidential guard unit that ransacked its studios, confiscated equipment and arrested two if its employees, presenter Mohammed Tondon Camara and technician David Camara, who were held for 24 hours and, one of them said afterwards, were subjected to physical mistreatment.

Two other stations, Familia FM and Radio Soleil, stopped broadcasting on 12 February after receiving threats. The public broadcaster, Radiodiffusion Télévision Guinéenne (RTG), is only broadcasting the communiques issued by army chief of staff Gen. Kefala Camara and reports favourable to the army.

No newspaper has been published in Conakry since the state of siege was declared. Even if there has been no public announcement of censorship measures, newspaper editors have been told that their content must be submitted to the military for approval. Street vendors are anyway refusing to distribute newspapers for fear of contravening army orders and exposing themselves to reprisals, and the only public outlet in Conakry has been closed since 12 February.

The Internet has been inaccessible through Guinea’s four Internet Service Providers since 13 February. Internet cafes are closed and their owners say they could be raided and ransacked by the army if they tried to reopen.

In this country
16 August - Guinea
Heavy fines and suspended prison sentences for two newspaper editors for libelling former minister
14 February - Guinea
Radio host and technician freed but station is still off the air and other media are threatened
28 February - Guinea
Two journalists badly beaten by Conakry police
21 February - Guinea
Newspaper editor freed after being secretly held for three days
9 December - Guinea
Suspension order against newspaper lifted

in the annual report
Guinea - Annual report 2006

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