Guinea 2019
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Guinea 2019

Security forces used excessive force to disperse pro-democracy protesters. Journalists, human rights defenders and others expressing dissent were arbitrarily arrested. Prisons remained overcrowded and impunity was widespread.

Background

Political tensions continued to rise ahead of the 2020 presidential election. President Alpha Condé launched a constitutional review process, fueling concerns from opposition and civil society groups that he may run for a third term.  

The legislative elections which were due in December 2018 were rescheduled for 2020 after several delays.

Legal, Constitutional or Institutional Developments

Guinea adopted laws which undermined the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The National Assembly in June passed a law on the use of arms by the gendarmerie. It cites several justifications for the use of force – including to defend positions gendarmes occupy – without making clear that firearms can only be used when there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury and if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.

Adopted in July, the Law on the Prevention and Repression of Terrorism contains vague and overly broad provisions, including on the apology of terrorism and contesting the commission of an act of terrorism, which could be used to criminalize the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression. It authorizes the Minister of Security and the Minister of Territorial Administration to temporarily shut down places of worship where “the statements made, theories spread, or activities held incite acts of terrorism or justify such acts” without judicial oversight.

The 2019 Civil Code legalized polygamy, despite concerns raised by civil society groups and UN institutions.

Freedom of assembly and excessive use of force

The authorities banned over 20 protests organized by opposition groups, pro-democracy movements and human rights organizations on vague and overly broad grounds. On several occasions, the authorities referred to a 2018 directive by the Minister of Territorial Administration banning all protests. In July, Guinean human rights groups asked the Supreme Court to strike down the directive, but the complaint was dismissed on procedural grounds.

The security forces continued to fuel violence during demonstrations by resorting to excessive use for force. At least 17 people died during demonstrations against a constitutional revision that could allow President Alpha Condé to run for a third term.

On 31 May, student Amadou Boukariou Baldé was beaten to death by gendarmes who dispersed a demonstration at the University of Labé. His relatives filed a complaint to the Prosecutor’s office, but their case was dismissed.

At least 11 people were killed by live ammunition on 14-15 October in Conakry. Among those killed were Boubacar Diallo, 14, and Mamadou Lamarana, 17. At least one other protester and one gendarme died in protests in the town of Mamou.

On 4 November, at least three people died during a funeral procession for the protesters killed in October. Amnesty International authenticated footage which showed police and gendarmerie officers firing teargas canisters around the mosque and cemetery where the funeral was held, stealing a motorbike and using slingshots against protesters.

Freedom of expression 

Journalists and over more than 60 members of the pro-democracy movement National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (Front National pour la Défense de la Constitution, FNDC) were subjected to arbitrary arrests.

On 26 March, Lansana Camara, the general administrator of conakrylive.info, was arrested after he published an article accusing government officials of corruption. He was charged with defamation and released on bail on 2 April. 

On 4 May, police arrested seven FNDC members who organized a protest in Kindia, western Guinea. They were wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Don’t touch my Constitution.” On 7 May, they were sentenced to three months in prison and fined 500,000 Guinean francs (50 euros) each. They were released on appeal on 13 May.

Aboubacar Algassimou Diallo, a radio presenter, and Souleymane Diallo, the general administrator of the satirical newspaper Le Lynx, were summoned at the Judicial Police Directorate on 19 and 20 August, respectively. They were accused among other charges of undermining public order and public security by sharing data. The charges were dropped in September.

Eight FNDC leaders were arrested on 12 October as they were preparing for a protest. On 22 October, the Tribunal of Dixinn found Abdourahamane Sano, Alpha Soumah (alias Bill de Sam), Ibrahima Diallo, Bailo Barry and Sékou Koundouno guilty of “direct incitement to an unarmed gathering”. Sano was sentenced to a year in prison and the others to six months. They were released on bail on 28 November pending their appeal.

Five FNDC members in Kindia, including the local FNDC co-ordinator Alseny Farinta Camara, were arrested on 14 November and charged with participation in an unauthorized gathering. They were released on 19 December. Two were acquitted and three were sentenced to four months in prison, with three months suspended. They have appealed.

Journalists were also subjected to violence. Radio presenter Mohamed Mara was beaten by policemen in Conakry on 16 November. He had received threats on social media from a supporter of the ruling party days before.

Detention

Prisons in Guinea are severely overcrowded, and conditions are inhumane. At least eight people died in detention in 2019. According to the Prison Administration, as of October, some 4,375 people were detained across 33 prisons with a combined capacity of only 2,552. Fifty-four percent of detainees were awaiting trial. At the Conakry Central Prison, which has capacity for 500 prisoners, 1,468 people were detained, 68% in pre-trial detention.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people 

The Criminal Code retains the criminalization of same-sex conduct characterized as “unnatural acts” which creates a climate of fear and has been used to harass LGBTI people. At least two people, including a 14-year-old boy, were arrested in Kankan, eastern Guinea, on 18 August, on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation and charged under the indecency provisions of the criminal code which include "unnatural acts".  In October, the charges against the boy were dropped and he was released.

Impunity

There was limited progress in a couple of cases of human rights violations, but by in large impunity remained the rule.

In February, a police captain was convicted of killing a man during a demonstration in 2016. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay 50,000,000 Guinean francs (4,864 euros) in damages to the victim’s family for assault and battery causing unintentional death. His superior officers were not brought to justice.

Also, in February, an Anti-Crime Brigade captain in Kipé, a neighborhood of Conakry, was sentenced to six years in prison for torturing a man in police custody in March 2016. At least 10 other gendarmerie and police officers were suspended over the incident but were not brought to justice.

In the case of the 2009 Conakry stadium massacre, the Minister of Justice pledged in November that the trial would start by June 2020, but said it would require the creation of a special court and training for the judges. Earlier, the Supreme Court dismissed all the appeals following the end of the investigation, including the appeals of the victims against the dismissal of the charges against Mathurin Bangoura and Bienvenue Lamah. Over 150 protesters were killed and 100 women subjected to sexual violence in September 2009.