- President Joao Bernardo Vieira of Guinea-Bissau has been petitioned over his government’s persistent harassment of journalists for reporting on drug trafficking.
In a dispatch to President Vieira, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed dismay at several reported cases to that effect.
“We are dismayed that one reporter who interpreted for ‘ITN News‘, a British television investigating drug trafficking has been charged with libel after the head of the navy filed a complaint against him,” the IFJ Africa Director, Gabriel Baglo, wrote.
“Threats against another reporter who has written about the drug trade have pushed him into hiding.”
On 29 August, a journalist with ‘Reuters’ and a private radio station ‘Bombolong FM‘, Alberto Dabo, was charged with libel, violating state secrets, libellous denunciation, abusing press freedom and colluding with foreign journalists.
His charge followed a complaint lodged against him by the National Navy Chief, Rear Admiral Jose Américo Bubo Na Tchuto.
He said Dabo had falsely implicated him in drug trafficking during an interview with the ‘ITN News‘, which he [Dabo] acted as an interpreter. But Dabo told the IFJ that this interview was not carried by none of the media outlets he works for.
Believing that the charges against Dabo are “totally baseless”, the press freedom body fears that he will not receive a fair trial. The IFJ has also called on President Vieira to urge Rear Admiral Na Tchuto to withdraw charges against Dabo and stop military threats.
Dabo was “briefly forced into hiding” after he had received so many serious death threats.
A month ago, another journalists, Allen Yero Emballo, who correspondent for ‘Radio International France’ and ‘Agence France Presse‘, fled the country more than a month ago after his security was at stake.
Threatened with death, Emballo found his home burglarised when he returned from an assignment in the archipelago of Bijagos, south of the capital Bissau. He was there to investigate packages suspected of holding drugs that had been dropped from airplanes.
“By protecting and supporting journalists who are disclosing the illegal drug trade in your country, you will be promoting press freedom and declaring to the public that the government does not support drug trafficking,” Baglo said.
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