Media pluralism is a reality in Guinea. But the country is still waiting to see whether the transitional government, installed after the September 2021 coup, will deliver on freedom of the press issues.
Guinea has a politically diverse media landscape and the 2020 press law prevents excessive media ownership concentration. The print media have flourished since the 1990s and, of 65 existing weeklies, 10 appear regularly. They include satirical magazines such as Le Lynx and general news publications such as L’Indépendant. The broadcast sector consists of at least 60 radio stations and ten or so TV channels. Around 100 news sites have emerged in the past 25 years. Nonetheless, critical or outspoken news reporting is difficult, especially when it questions members of the government or security forces.
During the presidency of Alpha Condé (2010-2021), the authorities regularly tried to censor media that criticised his rule. A few weeks after a transitional government came to power, the prime minister pledged, during a meeting with RSF, to defend press freedom. The government's policy is rather discriminatory towards the press: public service media are favoured at the expense of private media as far as government communications are concerned.
The 2010 press freedom law abolishing prison sentences for press offences was a major step forward in the protection of journalists. However, a law regulating access to state-held information and establishing the principle of transparency has yet to take effect although adopted in November 2020. Journalists are still being summoned for questioning and arrested although arrests are relatively rare. In September 2022, the High Authority for Communication (HAC) suspended five journalists without respecting legal procedures.
In Guinea, the government favours state-owned media over privately owned media, giving the former preferential access to official events and announcements. The subsidies that the state provides privately owned media are considered inadequate. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the media sector’s financial problems.
Certain topics, such as homosexuality, polygamy and domestic violence are handled with care and even restraint, so as not to clash with the prevailing moral code. Likewise, journalists who cover opposition to female genital mutilation and forced marriage may be harassed by religious groups.
Journalists are often the victims of violence and assault, especially during political demonstrations. In response to these dangers, several workshops on protecting reporters have been organised by journalists’ unions and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Journalists are also harassed and threatened on social media. Acts of violence against journalists – whether by police, members of political parties, activists or others – usually go unpunished.