Camp Boiro Memorial - Bibliotheque
Loading

The New York Times Store

Great fares to Europe and beyond.

Interactive ISO Environmental Management Standards

eCampus.com turns your textbooks into CASH!

Hot, New Apple Computers

Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5.5) Family

The International League for Human Rights
Communication on Gross Violations of Human Rights
and Fundamental Freedoms in Guinea.

March 5, 1977


Ambassador John H. Morrow
Amb. Morrow
Ambassador William Attwood
Amb. Attwood
Ambassador James I. Loeb
Amb. Loeb
Ambassador Robinson McIlvaine
Amb. McIlvaine

Letter to UN Secretary General

H. E. Mr. Kurt Waldheim
Secretary-General
United Nations
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Secretary-General:

The enclosed communication contains evidence of gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the part of the Government of Guinea. It is based upon investigations carried out for two years by a group of attorneys, including members of the Committee on International Human Rights of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

We respectfully request that this communication be dealt with in accordance with Resolution 1503 of the Economic and Social Council. We also express the hope that you will use your good offices to influence the Government of Guinea to cease its massive violations of basic rights and to bring an end to the suffering of the political prisoners and other victims of its repressive policies.

Respectfully yours,

Oscar Schachter
Chairman, The Committee on International Human Rights


Communication

His Excellency Kurt Waldheim
Secretary-General
United Nations
New York, NY 10017

Your Excellency:

The International League for Human Rights and the International Human Rights Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York respectfully transmit to you this communication evidencing a consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, committed by the Government of Guinea against its own citizens, as well as those of France and other countries lawfully resident in Guinea. These violations contravene international human rights law as embodied in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations Declaration against Torture, and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

It is with profound regret that we submit this communication to the United Nations because the violations evidenced are occurring in a country led by one who gained the respect of the world when he led his country through its initial stages of independence from the French community. Nevertheless, the evidence we have appended more than adequately supports the charges of systematic detention without due process of anyone presumed to be in opposition to the Government; the torture, execution, murder, and starvation of political prisoners; the forcing into exile of more than two million Guineans; and other gross violations. It is reported that there are half a million Guinean exiles in Senegal, half a million in the Ivory Coast, 200,000-300,000 in Sierra Leone, 200,000-300,000 in Liberia, 100,000 in Mali and 60,000-70,000 in France. Exile is forced upon these people in great part because of fear of the Government or threatened retribution by the Government. The rule of law has ceased to exist in Guinea and terror has become commonplace. There are no domestic remedies. Persons are arrested and detained, not by due process of law, but by secret tribunals at which the accused has no right or opportunity to prepare an adequate defense, or at which he/she may not even be present at the actual sentencing or trial.

By this communication, we seek the implementation of the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments and to inform the United Nations of the abuses of these instruments by one of its member states. The consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms committed by the Guinean Government, against citizens and non-citizens alike, as documented herein, warrants a United Nations investigation or study in accordance with ECOSOC Resolutions 728F and 1503. We thereby respectfully request that this communication be brought before the United Nations SubCommission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

Among the rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which have been, and are still being, grossly violated in Guinea, and in support of which evidence is submitted, are:

  1. The right to liberty and security of person, and to be free from arbitrary arrest and exile. (Articles 3 and 9).
  2. The right to be recognized as a person before the law. (Article 6).
  3. The right, in full equality, to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations of any criminal charge against him. (Article 10).
  4. The right, when charged with a penal offence, to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense. (Article 11).
  5. The right to effective remedy by the competent national tribunal for acts violating the fundamental rights granted by the constitution or the law. (Article 8).
  6. The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. (Article 5).
  7. The right to be free from racial discrimination. (Article 2).
  8. The right to be-free from discrimination based on national origin. (Article 2).
  9. The right to be free from arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence, and from attacks on one's honor and reputation. (Article 12) .
  10. The right to leave Guinea and return. (Article 13).
  11. The right to Guinean nationality and not to be arbitrarily deprived of one's nationality. (Article 15).
  12. The right to be free of arbitrary deprivation of one's property. (Article 17)
  13. The right of motherhood and childhood to special care and assistance. (Article 25).

The documentation submitted herein consists of eyewitness accounts of the former victims of the human rights violations reported. It has been collected over a period of two years by two attorneys of the Lawyers Committee of the International League for Human Rights and Council of New York Law Associates and of the International Human Rights Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The six annexes comprise:

  1. Lists of political prisoners including those who have disappeared, were condemned to death or died in prison camps. (compiled by those formerly interned in Guinea).
  2. Twelve affidavits of former political prisoners evidencing their and others' imprisonment without due process; the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and the poor conditions in the camps.
  3. Diagrams of prison Camp Boiro, prepared by former prisoners.
  4. Medical certificates issued by French physicians, evidencing torture of former political prisoners in Guinea.
  5. Statements of family members of a former political prisoner refuting charges brought against him.
  6. Statement by the wife of a current political prisoner in Guinea, relating to the arrest and charges against her husband, who served as Guinean Ambassador to the the U.S. and USSR.
  7. Statement by Guineans in exile endorsing the findings of this Communication.

These are convincing pieces of evidence which support the conclusion that numerous United Nations human rights treaties have been violated demanding immediate investigation by the United Nations.

1. The right to liberty and security of person, and to be free from arbitrary arrest, and detention, or exile.

These basic human rights are manifestly being denied to the people in Guinea today and have been for at least five years. our information is that there are thousands of political prisoners, detained in Guinea, not because they have committed violations of Guinean law, but because they have been arbitrarily adjudged by President Sekou Toure and his secret tribunals to be a threat to internal security. There is virtually no internal opposition to the present government as all those who are not in agreement with it have been imprisoned, executed (including several former cabinet ministers) or have been forced into exile.

Annex II contains statements made by former political prisoners who were arrested at all hours of the day and night and interrogated before being removed to prison camps where they were detained for up to five years without due process and under conditions contravening international law. One such detainee, Mr. Adolf Marx, describes his experience thus:

« I was arrested at my home at 10 o'clock at night on September 28th, 1970 by the Minister of the Interior, M. Moussa Diakite, and was brought before M. Ismael Toure, brother of the President of the Republic of Guinea and President of the Revolutionary Commission, which was sited at Camp Boiro. When I arrived there Ismael Toure asked only my name and then I was taken to Block No. 6., where I stayed for the remainder of my imprisonment. The guards stripped me and threw me on the ground and then left me. I was kept in darkness for 8 days without food and water. »

Mr. Marx's experiences are similar to those described in the other attached affidavits. Today there are thousands of Guinean nationals detained in prison camps after many years of detention, without any hope of release. One distinguished member of the Guinean community, Mr. Fadiala Keita, who had been President of the Court of Appeals in Guinea, Secretary General of the Afro-Asiatic Jurists and Guinean Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. and the United States, disappeared in September 1971. Despite repeated attempts, his wife has been unable to communicate with him as the Government will not make known his whereabouts or fate.

2. The right to be recognized as a person before the law.

The right in full equality, to a far and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charges brought against him.
The right, when charged with a penal offence, to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to the law in a public trial, at which he/she has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.
The right to effective remedy by the competent national tribunal for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the Constitution or by the law.

Political detainees, as is evidenced in the affidavits in Annex II, are given no chance to make any statements in their defense, nor are they allowed access to legal counsel. There is no presumption of innocence; rather they are presumed guilty from the outset of all the charges which the tribunal brings against them and they are automatically expected to sign prepared statements confessing their guilt and to implicate others under the threat of torture.

The hearings are all held in camera, and no one other than the accused and the members of the tribunal are allowed to be present. Many of the ex-detainees stressed the fact that it rapidly became clear to them that the tribunal was not interested in the truth, only in what it wanted to hear, and that its entire energies were directed towards obtaining from the accused a confession of crimes, usually membership in a foreign espionage ring, complicity in one of the alleged plots on President Sekou Toure's life, or of economic crimes, such as illegal trafficking in currency.

It is significant that the detainees were rarely brought before a tribunal immediately after their arrest, but only after such a time and after such treatment that they were in a state in which they were less able to defend themselves properly. It was customary for the prisoner to be tried and sentenced after he/she left the tribunal. The trial was held in secret and in absentia, so that the accused was unaware that it had taken place. They were never told their sentences and usually only became aware of them after they had been released. M. William Gemayel says in his statement:

« (My lawyer and I) were forbidden to speak about this business (the trial), even though I learned subsequently that I had already been condemned.
In the course of four years this lawyer and one of his colleagues came to Conakry about ten times without ever once being allowed to see me.…
… I was never told if there was a trial or sentence. The camp guards were under instruction to tell us nothing. I found out from another prisoner, who was present there that it (the trial) had taken place on 18th, January 1971 and that I had been sentenced to life imprisonment and all my goods confiscated. Even my lawyer, who came to see me after, was not allowed to tell me. »

As a result of this it is impossible for prisoners to appeal to any higher authority, which in Guinea is the President himself. The absence domestic remedies is manifestly evident in Guinea.

3. The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

At the beginning of 1971, reports began to appear in the press of executions taking place in Guinea. Those sentenced were Guineans and other nationals found guilty of involvement in the November 1970 invasion of Guinea. In a New York Times report of January 25, 1971, it was stated that 92 persons had been sentenced to death, 34 of whom were tried and sentenced in absentia. It is not known precisely how many people were executed during this time, but four persons at least were hanged publicly and witnesses report being driven beneath the bridge where the bodies of the four men convicted of conspiracy were left hanging. Although the death penalty is legal in many countries, it is generally considered that public executions are inhuman and degrading punishment and as such are in contravention of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Annex II evidences consistent contravention of this Article as well as the United Nations Declaration against-Torture and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. All the prisoners quoted were subjected to the most cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment. involving physical and mental torture, starvation, deprivation of light, fresh air, sanitation and exercise, so that many have vision that is permanently impaired and limbs that are permanently crippled. It was customary for all the detainees to be initially stripped naked and left in a bare cell without food or water for up to 8 days. If they refused to sign the statements prepared for them, they were physically tortured.

The tortures included:

A typical account of the treatment is given by M. Pierre Drablier in his affidavit:

« On 22nd, August 1971, during a bout of malaria I was stripped completely naked and locked without even a blanket in a rat-infested cell (n° 75). Even though I was ill, I was left for 12 days without food or water. The night before my last interrogation, after 11 days of a complete starvation diet, I was taken to the “Technical Cabin”. For several hours I was tortured (my arms and legs were twisted, I was subjected to electric shocks in my head and spine and beaten repeatedly on the head.)
On the day of my arrest, 28th, January 1971, I weighed 118 kilograms. On 25th, October 1971, I was examined by a Bulgarian doctor, Dr. Dimov, and I weighed 58 kilograms. When I arrived in France on the 15th, July 1975, I weighed 78 kilograms. »

Detainees are tortured until they confess to crimes. Torture is then re-employed to force prisoners to implicate others the Government wants to arrest which causes great mental torment to those forced to betray innocent people.

The physical conditions of the Camp are themselves a contravention of Article on the everyday regimen of the camp are to be found in the statements in Annex II, which describe the physical accommodations and their inadequacies, as they alone constitute degrading treatment.

« Accommodation: cement walls, covered in corrugated iron with no thermal insulation. Air and light were provided by two holes 10 cms. square. There were two sizes of cell, the larger 18 square metres, was supposed to be for two prisoners in fact the non-Africans were usually in fours, and the Africans were crammed in about 10 or twelve. The smaller cells of about 8 square metres were supposed to be for one prisoner, but again the facts are that they were used for two non-Africans and four or five Africans. »

The diet of the detainees is unsatisfactory and inadequate and many of the prisoners suffer from diseases such as beri-beri as a result. The sanitary facilities are of the most primitive variety and help promote the spread of diseases such as dysentery, as well as help make the over-all conditions of the detainees intolerable. M. Drablier expounds as follows:

Food

« The quality and quantity varied according to the mood of the men in charge of the supplies, but even at its best it was poor and insufficient in the morning a quarter litre of coffee and one loaf between ten of us. During the day a plate of rice with a poor sauce based on fish, a loaf for four of us and from time to time a piece of fruit. In the last year things improved, half a loaf a day for each prisoner and a little salad. The fish that we had every other day were peculiar in that they had only heads and tails! When I could get hold of them, I would eat leaves from the trees and banana skins. »

Hygiene

« The hygienic conditions under which we had to live were unbelievable. There was no water or plumbing in the cells. We had a chamber pot for all our sanitary needs, which we went to empty once a day in a nauseating ditch. For four and a half years this was the only occasion I had to get a bit of air out of doors. During the last year we had easier access to water and we had showers regularly For the first few years we had two and half litres of water a day for everything: for our drinking and toilet needs. Sometimes we went a month without a shower and often three months without being dble to wash our only clothes. The only possessions we had, which had to serve for all occasions, were a pair of shorts and a shirt without a pocket. We went barefoot and had no underclothes and no towel. I had to wait three years before I got a toothbrush. »

4. [In the aftermath of] the November 1970 invasion, [nationals and foreigners were accused] of being foreign espionage agents and of being involved in plots against the life of the President.

Once inside the prison camps, it was the Africans who became the object of racial hatred.
Annex I is a dossier prepared by Guineans currently living in exile,who were eye-witnesses to the violation of human rights committed against Guinea's own citizens in the most brutal manner, which includes murder, torture and disappearance. Many of the affidavits in Annex II deal with this aspect of the camp and stress that although the Europeans were treated badly, the treatment of the Africans was even worse. Their diet was even less in quantity and nutrition than the Europeans; they were moreover crowded and the tortures they suffered were worse than those inflicted on the Europeans. M. Martignole had this to say:

« I saw a Senegalese, who had gone mad, roped each morning to the foot of a tree, handcuffed hand and foot, and left there every day without anything to eat or drink. others were starved to death. They were shut in a cell, and then completely forgotten, having been tied so tightly that they could not reach the door. When their death rattle stopped, you knew they were dead.
Others who were stricken with grave illnesses such as dysentery or cholera, were given no care and they died rapidly. With my own eyes I have seen a Black who was nothing but skin and bones and covered with sores all over his body, who was too weak even to protect himself against the flies which came to lay eggs upon his sores so that he was devoured by the maggots. His agony lasted three or four days before he died…
…As for the Blacks, if they are not officially condemned to death, they will die anyway, principally from lack of vitamins, and lack of air and light, as their doors are never opened, except for those pitifully small numbers of privileged ones. A great number of them are completely blind or paralyzed.
If the regime of Camp Boiro has not changed since July 14th, 1975, when I was released, I fear that a great number of Guineans will have perished.
As the door to my cell was open, I was able to record what happened in the camp and established that the regime resulted in the death, on average, of one Black a day. »

5. The right to be free from arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor attacks upon his honor or reputation.

Several of the detainees whose statements appear in Annex II state that their homes or offices were searched by the police without a search warrant, which is in violation of Article 12.
The false confession which they were forced to sign under torture, and which they have now disavowed, state that they were the paid agents of foreign espionage networks and these statements were published in the Guinean newspaper, Horoya, thus casting doubt upon the detainees' honor and reputation. Annex V consists of statements made by relatives of one of the detainees, documenting the groundless nature of the confessions. Annex VI contains a similar refutation from the wife of the former Guinean Ambassador to the United States.

6. The right to leave a country and return. The right to a nationality and the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of one's nationality.

Guineans have been expelled from their country and threatened with death or imprisonment if they return; also, they have been deprived of their citizenship, in direct contravention of Articles 13 and 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The same is also true for their wives and families, even though they may hold Guinean citizenship in their own right. Both M. Jean-Paul Alata and his son were deprived of their Guinean nationality when they were expelled from Guinea.

7. The right to be free from the arbitrary deprivation of one's property.

All the European detainees whose affidavits appear in Annex II were deprived of their possessions which were confiscated by the Government. Several of the families who suffered such treatment had all their assets invested in Guinea and are now in dire straits as a consequence of this illegal confiscation and are wards of the French Government.
The same is also true of Guinean prisoners and in many cases their wives and children were put out on the streets and help forbidden them by law, so that they nearly starved.

8. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.

It is with particular regret that we draw attention to the plight of the women and children who have suffered at the hands of the Guinean Government. The families have been separated and wives of prisoners have not been allowed access to their husbands in prison. The fortunate ones know the fate of their husbands; many others do not. Annex VI consists of the testimony of the wife of the former Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. and U.S.A., who disappeared in September 1971 and who has not been heard of since.
The wives and children of European prisoners were expelled from Guinea almost as soon as their husbands were arrested and were not allowed to communicate with them for many months. The wives of Guineans were pressured to divorce their husbands and remarry.
Women who were arrested as conspirators were subjected to the same appalling conditions as the men. There are cases of children being born inside the prison camp and still being there in cells which are inadequate for their needs, and where they suffer the same regimen as their mothers.

In summary, the toll of human suffering due to murder, torture, starvation, racism and the separation of families is inestimable. The absence of domestic remedies makes United Nations human rights machinery the only means to redress these brutal crimes against Guineans in the prison camps at Boiro, Kindia and elsewhere throughout Guinea. It is their last assurance that they have not been abandoned by mankind and that their pleas for justice will not be muted by the pervasive reign of terror instigated by President Sekou Toure. For those whose suffering ended with their release, it is hoped that their testimony will bear witness to the need for United Nations action, as thousands of Guineans still languish in some of those same prison camps. For those tortured and murdered in the camps, let this be their memorial. We therefore respectfully request that an investigation be undertaken forthwith into the allegations documented herein.

We also appeal to you, Mr. Secretary General, to use your good offices with President Sekou Toure for the following humanitarian reforms:

We further ask that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees undertake to document the existence of Guinean refugees in Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali and France, and report on his findings and to render whatever assistance is required.

With assurances of our highest respect.

Yours sincerely,

Jerome J. Shestack
President, International League for Human Rights
Ambassador John H. Morrow
Amb. Morrow
Ambassador William Attwood
Amb. Attwood
Ambassador James I. Loeb
Amb. Loeb
Ambassador Robinson McIlvaine
Amb. McIlvaine

Ronald E. Pump
Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights
International League for Human Rights
Council of New York Law Associates
Jack Greenberg
Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Appendices

  1. (A,B,C) Lists of Political Prisoners, including those condemned to death and those who died in prison camps.
  2. Statements by prisoners formerly detained at Camp Boiro on conditions pertaining to their trial and imprisonment.
  3. Diagrams of Camp Boiro provided by former prisoners at the camp.
  4. Medical certificates by French physicians pertaining to the physical conditions of former prisoners at Camp Boiro.
  5. Statements by family members of former prisoner Marcel Ropert (see Appendix II) refuting charges brought against him by the Government of Guinea.
  6. Statement by Madame Fadiala Keita and supplementary documents relating to the arrest and charges brought against her husband, the former Guinean Ambassador to the United States and U.S.S.R.
  7. Statement by Guineans in Exile Endorsing the findings of this Communication.

Appendix II
Statements by prisoners, formerly detained at Camp-Boiro,
on conditions pertaining to their trial and imprisonment.

Name From To
1. Gabriel Guillabert 21.10.1971 1975
2. Michel Lepan 28.12.1970 1975
3. Pierre Marvegnole 18.10.1971 14.07.1975
4. Adolf Marx 28.09.1970 30.07.1974
5. Augustine Perrone 14.10.1971 14.07.1975
6. Marcel Ropert 29.12.1970 13.09.1974
7. Anonymous 28.08.1971 1975
8. Jean-Paul Alata 2.01.1971 1975
9. René Cazau 1971 30.12.1973
10. Jean-Yves Chailleux 21.09.1971 1975
11. Pierre Drablier 28.01.1971 15.07.1975
12. William Gemayel 25.12.1970 1975

Jean-Paul Alata

Date of statement: 14.02.1976
Camp: Boiro
Dates of imprisonment: January 2, 1971 to July 13, 1975

Replies to the Questionnaire.

1. May, 1955, as an official of the French Government. My wife and three children accompanied me.

2. 1955 — 1956 Pay-clerk in the Treasury
1957 — 1960 Chartered accountant. Fitter-out of industrial fishing boats
1960 — 1971 I became a naturalized Guinean in July 1960 and held the following succession of posts:

3. No, but I married again, to a Guinean woman in 1968 and my son, by my first marriage, had two children by his Guinean wife. I was imprisoned under a law which prescribes imprisonment for any member of a Guinean family who is a foreigner.

4. 2nd January 1971 at midnight. I was never brought before a proper legal authority.
After physical torture and mental pressure (about my family) I was forced to sign a series of statements in January and July 1971. I never saw a lawyer.
My son was expelled in July 1971, even though he had taken Guinean nationality in 1962 and had done all his studying in Guinea. My wife, Tenin Kante, was pressured to divorce me and remarry, but she refused, preferring to live a life of misery with our latest son, born five months after I was arrested, on May 7th 1971.

5. Camp Boiro at Conakry. See the attached memo and my book, Prison d'Afrique, which is to be published at the end of October.

I was given special dispensation for a 5 min. visit from my wife and newborn child on 7th August 1971. Since then I have had no news or letters, nothing from the French Government Representative.

I had forfeited my French Nationality in 1968, in order to take Guinean nationality, and I considered myself Guinean up to the time of my release.

6. I refer you to my book when it is published.
I was beaten and tortured with electric shocks.
The Commission of Enquiry at Camp Boiro was presided over by Ismael Toure, usually assisted by Seydou Keita, Mamadi Keita, Diallo Mouctar, Fode Berete, Luceny Conde and those in the Interior Ministry, Guy Guichard

7. The “investigations” lasted 7 months and I was “questioned” 13 times, twice under torture.

8. Forced labor for life. There was no appeal as the prisoner was never officially told the sentence.

9. Never.

10. See the attached memo.

11. See the attached list.

It concerns Boiro and Kindia, the only two death camps where it was possible to get only information about the prisoners.
If there are other camps we know nothing of them. The “privileged” were at Boiro and Kindia. We can only begin to guess at the treatment of the others

12. On the contrary, international public opinion must be focused on the plight of the Guinean people.

13. Yes, to Amnesty International.

14. Yes, this action is intended to release some or all of my unfortunate Guinean friends; hasten the liberation of the Guinean prople through international pressure; hasten my reunion with my wife, Tenin Kante, my son, Mohammed, born 7th May 1971, my two small children Jean-Paul Fama, born 28th September 1967 and Miriam, born 12th July 1970, all of whom were living in Conakry when I was expelled from Guinea, after 54 months of detention which was in contravention of the International Convention of San Francisco.

The financial consequences of my detention are unimportant.
I no longer possess anything, the only thing which interests or inspires me is respect for personal liberty and it was for this that I chose to become a Guinean citizen.
The only feelings I have left are for the suffering Guinean people.

15. I am speaking to you as a Guinean in exile, not as a foreigner claiming compensation for having been robbed by the Guinean Government.

René Cazau Statement

Date of statement: 1976
Camp: Boiro
Dates of emprisonment: September 1973 to December 30, 1975

Food schedule at Camp Boiro as at December 31, 1973.
Sanitary arrangements