Guinea: Police Bar Media from Court, Brutalise Reporter

This statement was originally published on mfwa.org on August 15, 2016.

Anti-riot police on duty at a court in Conakry have beaten up a journalist and destroyed his equipment.

The high-profile trial of a leading opposition figure, Ousmane Gaoual Diallo at the Court of first instance at Dixinn, a plush district in Conakry, attracted huge media interest. However, the press  arrived at the premises on August 11, 2016, only to realise that the authorities had decided to ban them from covering the hearing. A contingent of anti-riot police had also been deployed to maintain order.

The MFWA correspondent reported that one of the senior journalists, Mohamed Valek Touré, a reporter for Espace TV, approached the police to broker a compromise. Touré is said to have told the police that Guinean law states that court hearings are public events, and pleaded that the press be admitted into the courtroom even if without their cameras, recorders and microphones. However, some of the police officers took offense and started assaulting him.

The police allegedly attacked Touré with their fists and batons, subjecting him to further humiliation by shoving him onto the ground. His camera was damaged in the process. The police also detained Touré briefly before releasing him.

A fellow journalist who witnessed the scene, Bangaly Camara of the Evasion media group, told MFWA’s correspondent “the police demonstrated unbelievable brutality and violence towards the Espace TV reporter.”

The MFWA is worried about the continued attacks on journalists in Guinea by a section of the police and the Gendarmerie. While calling on the Guinea Police Force to punish the officers involved in the attack on Touré, we urge the Guinea Police Force and the Gendarmerie to train their officers to respect the work of journalists and work collaboratively with them.