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Guinea: Two New Laws Decriminalize Media Offenses, Set Up New Media Regulatory Body

(July 8, 2010) On June 28, 2010, it was reported that two new media laws have been published in Guinea's government gazette. One law decriminalizes press offenses; the other creates a new media regulatory agency. General Sékouba Konaté, the country's military leader, promulgated the two laws on June 22. A transitional commission comprising seven journalists drafted the two laws in consultation with media executives, educators, and international experts. The laws “are taking effect at [a] time when Guinea is holding an historic presidential election,” that may see the end of more than 50 years of dictatorship. (Reporters Without Borders, Authorities Promulgate Two New Progressive Media Laws (July 1, 2010),,37854
.) The first round of the elections occurred on June 27, 2010; the second round will reportedly take place on July 18. (Anne Look, Run-off Necessary in Guinea Presidential Election, VOANEWS (July 3, 2010),

Law L2010-002 CNT on media freedom replaces Law 91-005 CTRN of December 23, 1991. Unlike the previous Law, which only applied to print media, the new Law applies as well to state and privately owned broadcast and online media. It prescribes fines, in some cases heavy ones, but not prison terms, for journalists convicted of press offenses. In addition, the new Law defines defamation much more precisely than the former Law and guarantees the freedom to create newspapers, with the requirement that journalists manage them. (Reporters Without Borders, supra.)

Law L2010-003 CNT creates the new Communication Supreme Authority (HAC), with 11 members, as a new media regulatory body. It replaces the Communication National Council (CNC), which had nine members. The CNC's chairperson had been appointed by the President of Guinea; the head of the HAC will be elected by its members, five of whom will be named by media organizations. The HAC, in coordination with the media groups, has the authority to issue press cards. The Minister of Communication will consult the HAC on selection of managers of the state media and on the imposition of press sanctions. The HAC is to work with the Ministries of Communication and of Higher Education and Scientific Research on the training of journalists. (Id.)