Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2007 - Guinea Conakry
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Author||Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders|
|Publication Date||19 June 2008|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2007 - Guinea Conakry, 19 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/486466736e.html [accessed 12 March 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The beginning of 2007 in Guinea Conakry was marked by an indefinite general strike called by several trade unions on January 10, to protest against the high cost of living, corruption, impunity for financial crimes and more generally bad governance. After a repressive confrontation, the strike quickly turned into a movement of popular revolt against the regime of President Lansana Conté, who has been in power for 23 years, and the protesters' claims broadened to include the separation of powers, strengthened independence of the judiciary and real political change. The strike was initiated after the President himself freed in December 2006 Mr. Mamadou Sylla, a businessman accused of misappropriation of funds at the Central Bank, who had been imprisoned in the Conakry civil prison.
The demonstrations of January and February 2007 were violently repressed by the security services and the army, and resulted in the declaration of a state of emergency and a heavy human toll, with nearly 200 dead and more than 1,500 injured.1
As a result of negotiations, an agreement was reached on January 27, 2007 on the formation of a new Government with a Prime Minister of consensus who has extensive executive powers for a transitional period of three years, during which legislative and presidential elections should be held. The agreement also creates an independent commission of inquiry charged with shedding light on the abuses committed during the period of repression of 2006 and 2007 (summary executions, arbitrary detention, rape, etc.). Tension further increased when President Conté appointed one of his close friends, Mr. Eugène Camara, to the post of Prime Minister on February 9, 2007. This appointment, seen as a provocation, stirred popular riots. The general strike was finally suspended as a result of the appointment of Mr. Lansana Kouyate as Prime Minister on February 27.
In late 2007, tension remained high because of non-compliance with the January 27, 2007 road map, the increase in the cost of living, and the postponement of the legislative elections, which were initially scheduled for December 2007 but postponed in 2008 because of delays in the establishment of the National Independent Electoral Commission (Commission nationale électorale indépendante – CENI) demanded by the opposition. Similarly, the persistence of impunity for perpetrators and those responsible for human rights violations remains a major obstacle to the restoration of social peace, trust and rule of law in Guinea Conakry.
Trade unionists in the line of fire from authorities
Trade unionists and trade union leaders have been one of the main targets of the authorities because of their role in the mobilisation and articulation of social and peaceful protests at the beginning of the year. The Red Berets (Bérets rouges), the guards of the President of the Republic that are led by his son, Mr. Ousmane Conté, were particularly active in the repression of defenders of economic and social rights, in particular by ransacking the offices and computers of some unions and beating up many trade unionists. Thus, a score of union leaders, including Dr. Ibrahima Fofana, Secretary General of the Workers' Union of Guinea (Union syndicale des travailleurs de Guinée – USTG), and Ms. Hadja Rabiatou Diallo, Secretary General of the National Confederation of Guinean Workers (Confédération nationale des travailleurs guinéens – CNTG), have been repeatedly arrested and severely beaten.
To that extent, Ms. Reine Alapini Gansou, Special Rapporteur of the ACHPR on human rights defenders in Africa, expressed "deep concern following the information received regarding the harassment of human rights defenders during their union activities in Guinea".2
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders is a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).
1 In its Resolution P6_TA (2007) 0057, adopted on February 15, 2007, the European Parliament strongly condemned the "disproportionate and excessive use of force by the Guinean security forces during the recent demonstrations in various parts of the country, which resulted in the death of many civilians, the wounding of several demonstrators and the detention of trade union leaders and others".
2 See Press Release on the situation in Guinea by the Special Rapporteur of the ACHPR on human rights defenders in Africa (Unofficial translation).