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Camp Boiro Memorial


Amnesty International
Annual Report - 1980
Guinea


Major concerns of Amnesty International were political imprisonment, detention without trial, torture and poor prison conditions. Several political prisoners whose cases received considerable international publicity were released during the year.
In early August 1979 Monseigneur Raymond-Marie Tchidimbo, former Archbishop of Conakry, was released from Boiro prison camp after almost nine years in detention. In January 1971 the Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal sentenced him to life imprisonment with hard labour on charges of conducting "fifth column" activities at the time of the abortive invasion of Conakry by Portuguese-led forces in November 1970.
In early 1980 two other prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment on the same occasion, Alassane Diop and Edouard Lambin Baldet, also were released
In 1979 Amnesty International received reports which suggest that fewer than 20 long-term political prisoners out of the thousands reported arrested in 1971 and 1976 are still held in Boiro camp. Among those believed to be detained there and adopted as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International are: Nabaniou Cherif, President of the Guinean National Islamic Council; Baba Kourouma, a physician and former Governor of Conakry; and El-Hadj Mamadou Fofana, Director of the Economic Affairs division. A significant number of prisoners is known to have been released in 1977 and 1978, but there are strong reasons to believe that many others, including numerous former government ministers, civil servants and high-ranking military officers, were killed in prison or died as a direct result of ill-treatment and poor conditions. Five hundred political prisoners, known by name to Amnesty International, have not reappeared and there are serious fears that they have died in detention. According to some opposition sources, possibly as many as 4,000 prisoners did not survive their imprisonment. Amnesty International has not been able to verify this claim, as no information has been forthcoming from the government and no independent humanitarian organization has been allowed to inspect Boiro camp or other prisons. Prisoners at Boiro camp are reportedly still held incommunicado, although it would appear that there have been some minor improvements in prison conditions, including better food and more exercise.
In August 1979 some 15 people, including a well-known Guinean exile who had returned to Guinea, were arrested in Conakry and Boke and were taken to Boiro prison camp. The Guinean authorities claim that the prisoners were involved in a plot to cause instability in the country by blowing up several public buildings and produced arms which they alleged the prisoners had brought to Guinea for that purpose. Six of those arrested have reportedly since died in detention, after having been deprived of food and water for several days, and "confessions" are reported to have been obtained by torture. None of the prisoners is believed to have been released.
During the year President Sekou Toure again made strong criticisms of international efforts for the protection of human rights. He has not replied to Amnesty International's inquiries about the conditions of detention at Boiro prison camp or about the number of political prisoners still held there.