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Camp Boiro Memorial


Amnesty International
Annual Report - 1999 Guinea


Hundreds of opposition party supporters were detained, some of whom were prisoners of conscience. Thirty-eight soldiers, including possible prisoners of conscience, were sentenced to prison terms after an unfair trial. Torture and ill-treatment continued to be widespread. Prison conditions were harsh. No death sentences or executions were reported.

In October El Hadj Biro Diallo, President of the National Assembly, was suspended from the Parti de l'unité et du progrès (Pup), Party of Unity and Progress, the party in power, for attacking the country's human rights record. He had publicly compared Guinea's detention centres with the Boiro Camp, where scores of people “disappeared” when President Ahmed Sékou Touré was in power between the 1950s and 1980s. He had also condemned the use of torture and ill-treatment to extract confessions and exhorted President Lansana Conté to take action to prevent such abuses.

General Conté, who seized power in 1984, was re-elected in the first round of the December presidential elections. Opposition parties accused the government of rigging the results by denying their supporters voting cards.

Scores of opposition party members and supporters were arrested in March and detained, some of whom were prisoners of conscience. The arrests took place following violent clashes between the security forces and residents in the town of Kaporo, north of the capital Conakry, during which at least 10 residents and one policeman were killed. Residents of Kaporo, an opposition stronghold, had refused to move out of a residential area which the authorities claimed they had illegally occupied. Among those arrested were three members of the National Assembly and of the opposition Union pour la nouvelle République, Union for the New Republic. They were the opposition party's

Sixty of those detained and charged in connection with the clashes were tried in June before the court of first instance. During the trial, El-Hadj Alhassane Bah said that he had been tied up and tortured by members of the security forces. There was no investigation into the allegation. Fifty-eight of the defendants, including possible prisoners of conscience, were convicted of criminal offences, including violence and common assault, incitement to disobedience and racial hate. The three members of the National Assembly were sentenced to prison terms of between two and five months and a large fine; the others were sentenced to one year's imprisonment. In October all of them were released following a presidential pardon.

In April at least 20 people, including Momory Camara and Mamady Famory Condé both members of the National Assembly and of the opposition Rassemblement du peuple de Guinée (rpg), Guinean People's Rally, were arrested in Beyla town following a political rally organized there by the Rpg. The two members of the National Assembly were released after three days. The others, including Yasolo Camara and Mamady Sylla, were detained without charge or trial for a month; they were possible prisoners of conscience.

Hundreds of people were arrested during the presidential campaign and election. Some were released, but at the end of the year more than 100 people, including political leaders and members of the parliamentary opposition, continued to be held without charge or trial. A candidate in the presidential election, Alpha Condé, President of the Rpg, was accused by the authorities of wishing to leave Guinea illegally and of seeking to recruit troops to destabilize the country. Marcel Cros, President of the Parti démocratique africain de Guinée, African Democratic Party of Guinea, was accused of illegal possession of firearms. Together with other opposition activists, they were held in the detention centre at Conakry.

Opposition members of parliament and local government councillors, including Koumbafing Keita, Mamady Yo Kouyaté and Ramatoulaye Diallo as well as other elected officials of the Rpg, were also detained without charge or trial. They were held in the civil prison in Kankan.

Foday Fofana, a Sierra Leonean journalist arrested in 1997 (see Amnesty International Report 1998), was released in January without charge. He was immediately expelled to Sierra Leone. Moussa Traoré, a supporter of the Rpg and a possible prisoner of conscience who had been sentenced to three years' imprisonment in 1996 (see Amnesty International Report 1998), was released in September.

The trial of scores of soldiers accused of participation in a mutiny in 1996 (see Amnesty International Report 1997) began before the State Security Court in March. The trial failed to meet minimum international standards for fair trial. During the proceedings, some of the defendants stated that they had been forced to make confessions under torture (see below). Their allegations were not investigated. Others said they had spent nine months in prison without being presented before a judge. Thirty-eight soldiers, including possible prisoners of conscience, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven months to 15 years. Fifty-one defendants were acquitted.

Torture and ill-treatment continued to be widespread. In the June trial following the arrests in Kaporo, some defendants, whose wounds were still visible, said that the security forces had interrupted their prayers and then beaten them in front of the mosque at the time of arrest. During the trial of soldiers accused of participation in a mutiny (see above), some defendants who had been detained on Kassa islands said that they had been burned and “had endured the worst of humiliations” by the security forces. One defendant said that he had been plunged into water with his hands and feet tied. He alleged that he was later put on a table and whipped. After the widespread arrests of opposition activists in December, members of the security forces held some detainees on the ground, stamped on their hands and feet, and beat them. Some of the detainees received up to 50 truncheon blows twice in the same day.

Prison conditions were harsh and often amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

In March Amnesty International sent a delegate to observe the trial of the soldiers accused of mutiny but he was refused admission to the courtroom. In July, near the end of the trial, the authorities wrote to Amnesty International reiterating their refusal to admit an Amnesty International observer. The letter stressed that since the arrival of the second republic in 1984, the rights of the defence had been effectively guaranteed.