webGuinea
Camp Boiro Memorial


Amnesty International
1991 Report on Human Rights
Guinea


More than 50 people, including possible prisoners of conscience, were arrested for political reasons, but most were freed before the end of the year. Two were sentenced after an unfair trial. Some detainees were reportedly tortured and at least one was said to have died in security police custody as a result. There was no further information about the fate or whereabouts of 63 people who "disappeared" following their arrests in 1984 and 1985.

In February the government of President Lansana Conte announced an amnesty for 11 people convicted of political offences. In practice, this appeared to apply only to prisoners convicted at secret trials in 1986 and did not result in the release of any more of these prisoners, 63 of whom were still unaccounted for. The amnesty allowed some convicted in absentia in 1986 to return to Guinea.

A new constitution drafted by a constitutional commission appointed in 1989 was approved by a referendum in December. It includes safeguards against illegal detention and torture. However, in accordance with guidelines set by the government, it allows for only two political parties. The new constitution will not enter into force until 1995. In practice, all political parties remained prohibited during 1990.

Twenty-two supporters of the Rassemblement du peuple guinéen (RPG), Guinean People's Rally, an umbrella opposition organization, were arrested in August for allegedly distributing the party's newspaper, Malanyi (Unity). Most were released uncharged a few weeks later, but three were brought to trial in November before a criminal court in Conakry, whose procedures did not satisfy international fair trial standards. They were charged with distributing a newspaper without indicating the names of the authors or publishers. All three were convicted. However, two who received three-month sentences and who appeared to be prisoners of conscience were released immediately in view of the time they had already spent in custody. The third, who had returned to Guinea following the February amnesty, was also convicted of using a false identity card and received an 18-month prison term.

Two other alleged RPG members, Jean Sefa Camara and Joseph Soumah, known as Aïto, were tried by a criminal court in Conakry in February 1990. Both had been arrested in January 1988. Few details emerged about their trial but they were apparently accused of undergoing military training abroad as a prelude to organizing violent opposition to the government in Guinea. They were sentenced to two and five years' imprisonment respectively. The two prisoners did not benefit from the February amnesty.

Mohamed Ali Bangoura, another suspected RPG member who had been arrested in November 1989 when found in possession of the party newspaper, was released uncharged.

Further arrests occurred after student demonstrations in November and December, in which at least five people were killed, including Sékou Traoré, a Conakry University student. He was shot dead when security forces fired on a student march to the presidential palace. Dozens of other students were said to have been injured. At least four student leaders were then arrested: they were released uncharged after a few days. When a further march was organized, a foreign journalist and four members of a non-governmental human rights monitoring group, the Organisation Guinéenne des droits de l'homme, Guinean Human Rights Organization, were arrested. They were initially accused of holding an unauthorized demonstration but were released uncharged after 8 few days. The government issued a public apology for the deaths of students and said an inquiry would be held, but its outcome was not known at the end of 1990.

In July, 34 residents of Liberia, including both Guinean and Liberian nationals, were arrested at Macenta. They had crossed the border into Guinea to escape the conflict in Liberia (see Liberia). Ten women were released uncharged after five days, but the 24 men were all held until October, when 17 of them were released uncharged. One other detainee was reportedly released in November. All the men were apparently detained on suspicion of being supporters of the Liberian rebel leader Charles Taylor, whose forces had killed a number of Guineans living in Liberia and to whom the Guinean authorities were opposed.

The 24 men were reportedly beaten in detention with their hands tied behind their backs. They were moved to the Alpha Yaya military camp in Conakry and later to security police custody. They were held in harsh conditions and reportedly kept naked: one of them was said to have died in custody in October as a result. At least four refugees appeared before a court in Conakry in December. They were charged with endangering state security, illegal possession of arms, looting and other offences. One of them was sentenced to five years in prison and three were acquitted; one other was sentenced in absentia to 20 years' imprisonment. No new information was received about 63 people arrested in 1984 and 1985 and convicted in secret and unfair trials in 1986 (see Amnesty International Report 1989). The government did not respond to relatives' requests for information. No further information was received about the official inquiry which the government had announced in November 1989 after a prisoner was reported to have been…