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Pioneer of independent journalism attacked in his newspaper's offices

(RSF/IFEX) - 21 May 2010 - "Diário de Bissau" owner and publisher João de Barros, a pioneer of independent journalism in Bissau, was attacked inside the newspaper's premises on 15 May by a businessman he believes to be linked to drug traffickers. Before leaving, the businessman and his driver smashed all the computers in the newsroom.

Reporters Without Borders is today publishing De Barros's account of this incident and the background to it.

"This attack on De Barros is not an isolated and insignificant act," Reporters Without Borders said, pointing out that at least two journalists were forced to flee abroad last year and another one already this year. "This is just the latest example of the taboos imposed on the local press and the repressive climate in which journalists operate in this former Portuguese colony."

The press freedom organisation added: "The few journalists who dare to defy the code of silence and denounce the drug traffickers and their civilian and military accomplices risk serious reprisals, all the more so as impunity prevails. We urge the authorities to bring those responsible for this violence to justice."

In a November 2007 report entitled "Cocaine and coups haunt gagged nation" about the constant threat to Guinea-Bissau's journalists from drug traffickers and their accomplices, Reporters Without Borders asked the armed forces to ensure that those responsible for these threats and acts of intimidation were identified and punished. No effective measures were taken.

Read De Barros's account of the attack
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