Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Reporters threatened and expelled in Guinea-Bissau

The Bissau bureau chief of Portugal’s state broadcaster Radiotelevisão Portuguesa (RTP) was due to return to Lisbon after the authorities threatened to kill troublesome journalists.

RTP reporter Fernando Texeira Gomes was no longer welcome in Guinea-Bissau after his critical coverage of the country’s transitional government, the Committee to Protect Journalist wrote in an article.

The tension between Portugal and its former colony had increased after a military coup toppled Prime Minister Carlos Gomez Junior last April. Gomez Junior (no relation to the journalist) was backed by Portugal and favored to win the presidential election scheduled for April 12.

When the coup occurred, António Aly Silva, a well-known independent blogger in West Africa, was detained for nine hours after he published photographs of the military installations, Global Voices Advocacy reported in an online article.

The coup has been followed by serious violations of the freedom of expression, including threats to journalists and media censorship, Reporters Without Borders wrote in an article.

More recently, Bissau authorities accused the former colonial power for orchestrating an attack on a military barracks, and a high-ranked military officer personally threatened reporters at an Oct. 30 news conference. The media watchdog quoted him saying “any journalist who asks questions about former President Nino Vieira’s assassination will not leave this barracks alive,” the officer said. “I will kill him. We are at war.”

The Ministry of Communications sent Gomes a letter, ordering him to leave the country within a few days. Bissau authorities have accused the reporter for his extensive coverage of the exiled former prime minister and for publishing critical reports on the current government.

Silva recently told The Committee to Protect Journalist that he is hiding himself after soldiers threatened him at his residence.

Guinea-Bissau has been undergoing political instability and violence linked to drug trafficking for several years. Ranked 75th of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, the West African country has proved dangerous for reporters.

The country will hold presidential and legislative elections April 2013.

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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