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French Guiana

French Guiana - 2003 Annual Report

The press freedom situation was quite good, but two journalists looking into the alluvial gold mining industry received serious threats.

Frédéric Farine, a correspondent for the French daily La Croix and Radio France Internationale (RFI) investigating conditions in the alluvial gold mining industry, was accused of "paedophilia" and "corrupting youth" by two members of the Guianese Federation of Mining Organisations (FEDOMG) at a press conference in Cayenne on 1 July 2002.
In an article three days earlier headed "Forced labour in the Maroni region," he had quoted Brazilian immigrant miners accusing one of the gold bosses, Jean Bena, of enslaving them after confiscating their passports. On 18 June, he had reported for Radio Caraibes International (RCI), RFI and www.rfi.fr on the trial of four gold-washers from the town of Maripasoula who were jailed for five years for torturing a Brazilian gold-washer.
In July 2001, he had written a report with Laurent Marot, of the French daily Le Monde, exposing the existence of virtual militias run by the gold bosses who they said had installed a "reign of terror" in the region. The two reporters were subsequently threatened several times and an associate of Bena warned Marot that they were "first on the list."
Marot said that in February 2002, after a programme he had done on gold-washing was broadcast by Radio Guyane, another gold boss, Joseph "Popo" Machine, had called and told him he should turn his attention to other matters. "We’re sick of you. Be very careful how you go," he warned. A month later he called to say: "We’re fed up with the reports by you and Farine. We’re going to get you!"



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see also
2003 Africa Annual Report
2003 Asia Annual Report
2003 Europe Annual Report
2003 North Africa and the Middle East Annual Report