2003 Documented Cases – Guinea-Bissau

FEBRUARY 13, 2003

Radio Bombolom

Police in the capital, Bissau, shuttered the offices of Radio Bombolom, the country's main independent news broadcaster, forcing the station off the air. The Ministry of Information accused the station of "broadcasting false information that could jeopardize national sovereignty and the stability of the country."

Radio Bombolom is known for its news and discussion programs, during which participants frequently criticize President Kumba Yala and his ruling Social Renewal Party. Sources in Bissau told CPJ that the station's closure is likely related to a January 28 broadcast of a debate among civic leaders that Bombolom hosted. During the program, João Vaz Mané, vice president of the Guinean Human Rights League, called Yala a "source of instability" in the country and accused the president of mismanaging Guinea-Bissau's resources. Mané was arrested the following day and detained for three weeks without charge.

Radio Bombolom's closure follows the arrests of several opposition members and outspoken government critics. Local sources claimed that the censorship of the station was part of an ongoing effort to stifle independent media that question or criticize Yala's rule ahead of general elections scheduled for April 2003.

MARCH 12, 2003

Ensa Seidi, Rádio Difusão Nacional

Seidi, news editor for the state-run Rádio Difusão Nacional (RDN), was suspended from his position on orders from the government, local sources reported.

The suspension came in reprisal for Seidi's March 8 coverage of former prime minister Francisco Fadul's return to the capital, Bissau, from self-exile to challenge the ruling Social Renewal Party in legislative elections scheduled for April 2003. Local sources said that RDN management had instructed journalists at the broadcaster not to cover Fadul's return.

According to the Portuguese news agency LUSA, Information Secretary João Manuel Gomes went to the RDN studio shortly after the March 8 broadcast and angrily told Seidi that he would be "expelled" for his report. RDN Director-General Malam Lamine Djatá later confirmed that Seidi was suspended on government orders, LUSA reported.


Samba Sow, Sintcham Occo, Júsper Rodrigues Santi, Sintcham Occo

Sabino Quadé, Sintcham Occo

Police arrested Sow, director of the local community radio station Sintcham Occo; Santi, a reporter for the station; and Quadé, a radio technician, in Gabu Province, in eastern Guinea-Bissau. They were detained overnight in a local jail before being released without charge.

Local journalists told CPJ that the arrests came after the station had broadcast a press conference of the opposition party Plataforma Unida, during which party leaders criticized Gabu Province's governor, who belongs to President Kumba Yala's Social Renewal Party.

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