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Guinea: Acts of Torture, Symptoms of a Country Still Divided

[All links forward to French articles unless otherwise stated] 

Guinea's transition from the notorious military regime of Moussa Dadis Camara (which ended in January 2010) towards a democratic political system with the elected President Alpha Condé has not gone smoothly. The country is still experiencing strong internal divisions as indicated by the attempted coup d'etat against the president on 18 July, 2011. The rule of law is still under construction and there are numerous accounts of torture within the military.

ACAT- France, the French branch of The International Federation of Action by Christians for the abolition of torture and execution, launched an online petition called “Stop the Torture” addressed to President Alpha Condé of Guinea. This petition is part of a campaign whose aims are:

to advance the rule of law in Guinea, to influence freedom surrounding torture, to denigrate inhuman treatment and make President Alpha Condé act by arranging the necessary measures.

This campaign follows a field survey conducted jointly in 2011 by ACAT-France and three NGO's engaged with local human rights issues: AVIPA (Association of Victims, Relatives and Friends from September 28, 2009), MDT (The Same Rights for All) and OGDH (Guinean Organisation for the Defence of the Rights of Man and Citizen). A report published in November 2011 has revealed that:

torture remains a common practice in the country, whether against prisoners on the occasion of demonstrators suppression or to punish military suspected of insubordination.

The following video of UFDG2010, testifies the violence committed by security forces against opposition demonstrators:

As well, Human Right Watch, in its report 2012 on Guinea, deals with the consequences of an attack at the residence of the Head of State in July 2011 which:

has resulted in the arrest of at least 38 people, including 25 soldiers. The arrests and detention of certain military arms personal were accompanied by physical abuse and in some cases torture. This has highlighted the persistent division based on ethnic and regional factors within the army, as well as the frailness of the political process.

The report continues:

The emergence of a militia recruited within the same ethnic group as the president has equally raised concerns.

These are “Donzos“, armed traditional hunters, originating from the region of President Alpha Condé. In a press release issued on infoguinee.com, the collective of political parties for transition completion has condemned their use in the repression against civilian members of the opposition:

According to the collective, during the peaceful march on 27th September, security forces backed by members of the “Donzos” militia have killed five people, injured hundreds, some severely, including pregnant women and children.

Another report from HRW talks about the worsening of relations between the main ethnic groups, for which poor governance is hold partially responsible:

These include the failure by the government to discipline members of security services for ethnic slurs against the Peuls; discriminatory appointment practices which have resulted in the assignation by the president of a disproportionate number of individuals from the Malinké ethnic group and at times partisan use of the security services and judiciary to restrict and punish members of the political opposition for exercising their right to freedom or peaceful assembly.

After the massacre that took place at the stadium on the 28 September, 2009, none of the responsible security forces and perpetrators, that have been included in the lists established by investigation of HRW and the UN Commission of persons suspected to have committed crimes against humanity, have been worried, instead they have been promoted:

Two years later, none of the supposed leaders have been arrested and “we watch powerless at the promotion of some of the presumed authors of barbaric acts into high civil and military positions”, laments the Guinea Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights (OGDH). The organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) states that among the newly promoted is “Lieutenant Colonel Claude Pivi as Minister of the Presidential Security” and “Lieutenant Colonel Moussa Tiégboro Camara as Director of the National Agency for fight against drugs, organised crime and terrorism”.

In an environment of impunity, the judges of Conakry have proved courageous and were hailed by 10 NGO's protecting human rights for having charged Lieutenant Colonel Moussa Tiégboro Camara in February 2012 as responsiblefor the bloody repression of the events in 28 September, 2009, in Conakry:

Our organisations welcome the charging in February 2012 of Lieutenant Colonel Moussa Tiegboro CAMARA for his alleged role in the serious violations of human rights carried on September 28th 2009 in the stadium of Conakry. Moussa Tiegboro CAMARA, who holds the status of minister and is currently director of the National Agency for fight against drugs, organised crime and terrorism, was extensively interviewed today in the court hearing by the judges in charge of the case.

But as proof of the impunity culture still prevailing in Guinea, this powerful character still occupies the same function with full impunity.

The web site Guinee58.com has published a note of Naby Laye Camara dealing with the consequences of ethnically-based recruitment in a mining forest area of Guinea:

After police violence on the night of Friday to Saturday in the south-east of the country that ended with five dead during a protest of villagers condemning the recruitment policies of the Brazilian mining society Vale, Guinea has been the scene of new clashes in the north-east at Siguiri on Tuesday 7th August.

Representatives of the Commission for Human Rights (HCDH), the UN at Conakry, Tthe NGO “Lawyers without Borders Guinea” (ASF-Guinea), ‘PACEM IN TERRIS', the Catholic Church of N’Zérékoré and a journalist from Renaissance Radio have co-produced a joint report after visiting the village disclosing:

As for those in support of such arguments as the maintenance of order and the detention of strikers, they need to know that the selected timings (at midnight and three days after the strike), the means employed (12 vehicles, the nature of arms, the numbers of police and military forces) and the methods used (firing live ammunition on houses and hangars, burning of properties, public abuse and extra-judicial executions…) prohibit any person truly aware of basic human rights to believe such declarations.

On 27 August, 2012, in order to prevent an unauthorised demonstration by the opposition, the counter-demonstrators threw stones at them and the security forces raided the headquarters of the opposition parties and the homes of their leaders. Attacks against the media activists coming from the ruling party militants were also reported.

The video shows the intervention of Brigadier General Ibrahima Baldé following the opposition protests.

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