At least 13 journalists were arrested by Guinean security forces during protests against censorship on Monday, October 16.
The Private Press Union of Guinea (SPPG) called for a march in the capital, Conakry, on Monday to demand authorities lift restrictions on the local news site, Guinee Matin, which has been blocked since August with no explanation.
Protesters were met with resistance from police and security forces, as the military government has banned demonstrations since 2022.
“We intended to gather at the roundabout by the port. The mixed police and gendarmerie forces gassed us,” Abdouramane Diallo, an SPPG official, said.
The ten other journalists who were detained were there covering the protest for outlets including Guinée Matin, Hadafo Médias, and Cavi TV. They were charged with criminal participation in an illegal gathering” and eventually released after being held for seven hours.
Several other journalists were also beaten up in the standoff with the authorities. Equipment such as cameras and sound recorders was damaged as well.
“They wanted to disperse us; they used teargas; they roughed up journalists; and they smashed equipment before taking us away,” said Sékou Jamal Pendessa, the general secretary of SPPG, in an interview with Reporters Without Borders (RSF). He was one of the three journalists participating in the protest who were also arrested.
Four press associations, AGUIPEL, URTELGUI, REMIGUI, and UPLG, said in a joint statement that they “condemn this gratuitous violence committed against journalists.”
“The press associations call on the national and international community to witness the serious decline in freedom of expression and democracy,” they added in the statement.
According to the RSF’s press freedom index, Guinea ranks 85 out of 180 countries in terms of freedom of the press and the protection of journalists.
The 13 journalists are due to appear in court next week.