Freedom of the Press
Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Overall, press freedom in Guinea remained largely unchanged in 2006, primarily because the aging regime of President Lansana Conte frequently resorted to old habits in launching reprisals against the press. But important qualitative changes did take place during the year. The constitution guarantees freedom of the press, but this right is not respected in practice and has been widely abused in the past, including through the enforcement of restrictive press legislation that considers defamation and slander criminal offenses and permits the authorities to censor publications. Although there were fewer arrests and detentions than in previous years, the government did suspend a number of publications. In 2005, President Conte signed a media liberalization decree that finally permitted the establishment of private radio and television broadcasting. The decree limited ownership by political parties and religious institutions but did not restrict programming on these subjects.
The number of attacks on the press diminished during the year, in large part because of the 2005 media liberalization decree. However, this concession to the press did not come without cost. Four separate newspapers were suspended by the Conseil National de la Communication (CNC) in 2006 for publishing excessively critical or contentious information. In February, the private bimonthly Les Echos was banned for two months for publishing allegedly false information about a government minister; in April, the biweekly independent L’Enqueteur was also suspended for two months for an article highlighting government corruption; and in October, the managing director of the state-owned and -published Horoya received an indefinite suspension after he refused to publish a picture of the president. Finally, in November the Kalum Express, a private weekly based in the capital, Conakry, also received a two-month suspension for publishing an editorial accusing the government of dishonesty in its dealings with a prominent businessman. The paper was accused of “damaging the reputation of the state”; the editor was forced into hiding and was later recalled and demoted to the rank of reporter. The independent journalist and respected newspaper editor Boubacar Yaccine Diallo now serves as chairman of the CNC. Following his appointment, Diallo initiated programs to increase professionalism in the practice of journalism and implemented a requirement that journalists must meet higher professional standards to obtain press credentials.
State-owned media provide extensive, mostly favorable coverage of the government but also criticize local-level officials and increasingly report on opposition activities. The liberalization of the airwaves in August 2005 has led to the emergence of privately owned radio broadcasters, with four private stations broadcasting alongside state-owned Radio Television Guinea (RTG). However, RTG is still the only television broadcaster. Within the private print media, newspapers openly criticize the president and the government. Ten private weekly newspapers publish in Conakry, while a dozen others publish sporadically. Last year, the government gave financial subsidies of around US$100,000 to private newspapers through the Guinea Association of Independent Editors, which divided the money among various press organizations. The government does not directly restrict access to the internet, although there was a previous case of reprisals against a journalist in response to an article he had published online about economic corruption. Less than 1 percent of the population had the financial means to access this new medium in 2006.