31 August 2012 – The United Nations human rights office today voiced concern about the excessive use of force by security forces in Guinea in a number of incidents over the past few weeks, and stressed that demonstrators must be allowed to exercise their rights to peaceful assembly and expression.
There were violent clashes on Monday between security forces and demonstrators during an opposition protest rally in the capital, Conakry, where security forces used tear gas in the compound of an opposition leader’s home, said a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“Reports suggest that live bullets were also used, and that a number of people were arrested, severely beaten up and injured,” Rupert Colville told a news conference in Geneva.
This came weeks after six people were killed in the town of Zogota in the south-east of the country by security forces on 3 August. OHCHR in Guinea has been investigating the circumstances surrounding the killings, which occurred after protestors in Zogota vandalised the facilities of a mining company.
“The Government has launched an inquiry into the killings and we call on the authorities to ensure that those responsible are held accountable, to bring justice to the victims and to send a clear message that security forces cannot expect impunity for such egregious breaches of international human rights law,” said Mr. Colville.
“Law enforcement officials must respect the international legal standards for maintaining public order, including detailed guidelines governing the use of live ammunition,” he added.
Given the tense political climate in the country, OHCHR called on all stakeholders to exercise restraint.
“Demonstrators must be allowed to exercise their rights to peaceful assembly and expression, and law enforcement officials must enforce law and order in a proportionate manner,” the spokesperson said. “We encourage all stakeholders to work towards an inclusive dialogue, including with the participation of civil society actors, to ensure that the delayed elections are held promptly.”
In 2009, at least 150 Guineans were killed and many others raped after armed forces opened fire on unarmed demonstrators at an opposition rally in Conakry. There have also been several incidents of excessive force used against demonstrators since then that have resulted in deaths and injuries.