Guinea-Bissau’s Journalists Are Under Attack

Guinea-Bissau’s Journalists Are Under Attack
A large crowd gathers to listen to then-presidential candidate Kumba Yala speak in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, June 26, 2009 (AP photo by Fid Thompson).

Back in 2000, Paula Silva de Melo, a veteran journalist, took to Guinea-Bissau’s national television channel, RTGB, to read aloud a communique that openly criticized the government.

Guinea-Bissau had just come out of a civil war that had left media institutions and journalists in a precarious position. Many broadcasters and publications had suffered serious damage to their equipment, and the few outlets that remained active were little more than propaganda tools for the war’s belligerents. But the country was embarking on a liberalization process that promised to expand press freedoms. Journalists like de Melo were eager to hold power accountable, and new private media companies were cropping up to help shape public discourse.

The communique de Melo read on air was written and signed by Fernando Gomes, the former president of an NGO, the Guinean League for Human Rights, and a leader of the now-defunct opposition Socialist Alliance of Guinea party. In it, Gomes explicitly named and critiqued then-Prime Minister Caetano N’tchama, accusing him of corruption. But the fact that de Melo and her co-anchor, Iussuf Queta, weren’t the authors of the letter did not seem to matter to N’tchama.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.