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Human Rights Watch World Report (EN-FR): Guinea in 2013 – NOT a Pretty Picture

January 24, 2014
Manifestation_de_Bruxelles_22_Mars_2013ACKILLINGGuinean holds sign at demonstration against Alpha Conde which took place in Brussels on March 22, 2013
This week, Human Rights Watch, issued its World Report for 2014 which assesses the human rights situation throughout the world during 2013. Here is a link for the Guinea chapter which is in English (the link to French is at top of page).  Below are selected excerpts from the report.

 
Human Rights Watch has done a pretty good job of covering Guinea’s violent landscape and the impunity with which Alpha Conde and his  regime rule the country. Yet, there are two areas which HRW didn’t get right:  the nature of ethnic tensions in Guinea and the dynamic of the “violent” demonstrations.  Another post on this later.
 
There is nothing in this report that will surprise the overwhelming majority of Guineans. It’s shows clearly that, after stealing the 2010 presidential election, Conde arrived in office without a mandate to govern, requiring him to repress citizens who did not vote for him in order to cover his loss in the election.  Since the day he took over the helm of the country, nothing has improved for the people.  He’s driven the country to hell and seems to enjoy it.  
 
Excerpts from the HRW report on Guinea, 2013
 
Introduction 
 

Parliamentary Elections
 
“Parliamentary elections, not held since 2002, were to have taken place six months after the largely free and fair 2010 election of Alpha Condé as president. However, they were repeatedly delayed by opposition demands to address technical concerns involving the electoral list and the right of the diaspora to participate, among other issues. The delay exacerbated ethnic tensions, deepened a concentration of power in the executive branch, and generated considerable frustration within Guinean civil society and the country’s international partners.”
 
 
International Actors 
 
 “International actors—notably the United Nations Office of West Africa (UNOWA), European Union, France, the United States, and the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF)—took proactive steps to resolve disputes over the organization of parliamentary elections, but rarely spoke out on the need for justice for past and recent crimes by state actors.”
 
 
 
 Accountability for September 28, 2009, and Other Crimes
 
 
“The panel has made important strides, having interviewed more than 300 victims and charged at least eight suspects including several high-level members of the security forces. However, progress continues to be stymied by insufficient government backing and support, including the government’s failure to place high-level suspects on leave from their government posts pending investigation and to satisfactorily resolve the judges’ outstanding request to question the former Guinean president, who is currently living in Burkina Faso. Some suspects have been in pretrial detention longer than the two years Guinean law permits.”
 
 
Judiciary and Detention Conditions
 
 
“Prison and detention centers in Guinea are severely overcrowded, and inmates and detainees lack adequate nutrition, sanitation, and medical care. The largest detention facility—designed for 300 detainees—accommodates some 1,100.”
 
 
Truth-Telling and Independent Human Rights Institutions
 
During 2013, the “Reflection Commission,” created by presidential decree in June 2011 to promote reconciliation, made no visible progress in fulfilling its mandate. The interim co-presidents appeared to limit its mandate to promoting reconciliation largely through prayer, while local human rights groups pushed for a commission that could meaningfully address impunity.
 
 
Conduct of Security Forces 
 
“On at least three occasions, members of the security forces attacked or failed to protect members of the opposition or their family members from violence meted out by ruling party militants. On several occasions, members of the security forces engaged in theft, extortion, and other crimes directed at people living in neighborhoods that largely supported the opposition. The police and gendarmes also failed to equally protect people during violent street demonstrations, including by standing by while protestors supporting the ruling party attacked and at times robbed opposition supporters.”
 
 
Freedom of the Media 
 
“In mid-August, soldiers stormed Bate FM in Kankan, shutting it down for airing President Condé being booed at a rally. At least three journalists were briefly detained. The station was later attacked and looted and one journalist was assaulted in the process. The attackers were allegedly supporters of the president.”
 
Key International Actors 
 
Guinea’s key international partners, notably the United Nations, European Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), France, and the United States, remained largely focused on ensuring progress in the long-delayed parliamentary elections. However, they remained largely silent on the need for those responsible for the September 2009 violence. While they made frequent calls to end the violent exchanges between supporters of the opposition and ruling party, they largely failed to condemn abuses by the security forces or demand that they be held accountable for their crimes.” 
 
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