Critics of Guinea-Bissau military beaten by military personnel

Francisco José Fadul, a Court President and former Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, was beaten by military personnel at his home in Bissau in the early hours of Wednesday morning. He is currently in intensive care at the Simão Mendes National Hospital in Bissau.

Francisco Fadul held a press conference on Monday 30 March calling on the government to hold the military accountable for corruption and other crimes. He was reported to have been beaten by at least four military officials who hit him with the butts of their firearms and told him he was “too talkative”. He received injuries all over his body – including the head – and a stab wound on his arm.

The beating follows the assault of well-known lawyer Pedro Infanda by the military. Pedro Infanda was arbitrarily arrested by military officials on Monday 23 March and taken from his office to the Quartel Amura de Bissau military installation, where he was severely beaten with wooden objects for four days, and tortured.

He was denied access to medical treatment, his family and an attorney. His entire body is covered in bruises. He is also currently in intensive care at the Simão Mendes National Hospital.

Hours before his unlawful arrest, Pedro Infanda held a press conference in his office speaking on behalf of his client, Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchute, former head of the Guinea Bissau Navy. In the press conference, Pedro Infanda expressed his client’s opinion that the newly appointed Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces was not competent for his post.

Military officials do not have the authority to arrest civilians in Guinea-Bissau. Amnesty International expressed concern that the military has been permitted to arrest and detain civilians in violation of national laws.

Amnesty International has also received reports that, Luís Vaz Martins, the president of the Human Rights League of Guinea-Bissau, was also threatened. An armed man in civilian clothes is reported to have gone to his office on Wednesday, around 5pm, looking for him. The man is reported to have said that the human rights league was “too talkative” and made threats to kill Luís Martins.

“The military of Guinea-Bissau is using extreme measures against any opposition or criticism – instilling fear in any who might consider freely expressing their views regarding military practices,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director.

Amnesty International also said that the unlawful arrests and ill-treatment by the military were also a violation of Guinea-Bissau’s international human rights obligations.

“The government must investigate immediately these arrests and beatings by the military, and ensure those responsible are brought to justice and that similar attacks do not happen again,” said Erwin van der Borght. “The military must be told in no uncertain terms that they do not have the authority to arrest or detain civilians.”