Affiliated Organization: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Type of publication: Report
Date of publication: 2021
*Les Wathinotes sont des extraits de publications choisies par WATHI et conformes aux documents originaux. Les rapports utilisés pour l’élaboration des Wathinotes sont sélectionnés par WATHI compte tenu de leur pertinence par rapport au contexte du pays. Toutes les Wathinotes renvoient aux publications originales et intégrales qui ne sont pas hébergées par le site de WATHI, et sont destinées à promouvoir la lecture de ces documents, fruit du travail de recherche d’universitaires et d’experts.
Guinea was a constitutional democratic republic until September 5, when Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya and military special forces arrested President Alpha Conde and seized power through a coup d’etat.
The country last held presidential elections in October 2020, electing President Conde to a controversial third term with 59.5 percent of the vote following a March 2020 referendum that amended the constitution to permit him to run. International and domestic observers raised concerns regarding widespread electoral violence, restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly, lack of transparency in the vote tabulation, and polling station vote tally discrepancies.
After September 5, the military junta, led by the National Committee for Reunification and Development, oversaw the entire government, while individual government ministries continued to be led by civilian appointees. The gendarmerie and National Police share responsibility for internal security, but only the gendarmerie can arrest police or military officials. The army also has some domestic Security responsability.
Guinea was a constitutional democratic republic until September 5, when Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya and military special forces arrested President Alpha Conde and seized power through a coup d’etat
On the morning of September 5, Guinean Military Special Forces Group leader Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya seized power from the government. Colonel Doumbouya declared himself head of state, dissolved the government and National Assembly, and suspended the constitution. Doumbouya announced the creation of a National Committee for Reunification and Development government comprised primarily of military officers. On September 27, Colonel Doumbouya released the Transitional Charter, which supersedes the constitution and law until a new constitution is promulgated.
Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
Fighting during the September coup d’etat was limited to Conakry’s Kaloum neighborhood, with press reporting eight to 20 members of the military killed.
According to Amnesty International, in the months leading up to the 2020, presidential election, between October 2019 and July 2020, security forces killed at least 50 persons and injured more than 200. Opposition sources claimed that security forces killed 99 individuals between October and December 2020 during and after the presidential election. The government did not confirm the number of persons killed during this period.
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Impunity was a significant problem in the security forces, particularly in the gendarmes, police, and military forces. Factors contributing to impunity included corruption, lack of training, politicization of forces, and a lack of transparency in investigations. Offices tasked with investigating abuses included civil and military courts and government inspectors general within the Ministry of Security and Civilian Protection.
In September the CNRD announced a new public toll-free number for citizens to report on abuses of power by defense and security forces. By year’s end the CNRD had removed two soldiers from the armed forces for vandalism and looting based on information received from the hotline.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Physical Conditions: Overcrowding remained a problem. According to government sources, between January and February, the Conakry Central Prison in Conakry held 1,570 prisoners in a facility designed for 300 (523 percent of total capacity); Nzerekore held 271 prisoners in a facility designed for 80 (339 percent of total capacity); and Kakan held 229 in a facility designed for 80 (286 percent of total capacity). Government-funded rehabilitation programs were underfunded and ineffective, leading some NGOs to try filling the void.
In September the CNRD announced a new public toll-free number for citizens to report on abuses of power by defense and security forces. By year’s end the CNRD had removed two soldiers from the armed forces for vandalism and looting based on information received from the hotline
Between December 2020 and January, at least three opposition members died while in pretrial detention, reportedly due to poor prison living conditions. A fourth member died shortly after his release in December 2020. Authorities investigated none of the several reported deaths of prisoners.
Administration: Prison authorities did not investigate credible allegations of abuse or inhuman prison conditions. Prisoners and detainees have the right to submit complaints but seldom did due to possible reprisals from prison guards. Prisoners must use a lawyer to file a complaint, but lawyers were scarce and expensive. Prison authorities received little to no formal penal training, and prison guards received only rudimentary basic military training designed for gendarmes. The local NGO Equal Rights for All stated religious practice was restricted at prisons other than the Conakry Central Prison.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
Arbitrary Arrest: The CNRD arrested and arbitrarily detained former president Alpha Conde on September 5. On November 27, authorities moved former president Conde from his previous location to his wife’s house in the Dixinn neighborhood of Conakry. As of December he remained under house arrest without charge.
The Transition Charter, previous constitution, and law provide for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary, although burdened by corruption and limited effectiveness, generally strived to enforce this right.
Between December 2020 and January, at least three opposition members died while in pretrial detention, reportedly due to poor prison living conditions. A fourth member died shortly after his release in December 2020. Authorities investigated none of the several reported deaths of prisoners
Trials are public and defendants have the right to be present and to consult with an attorney in a timely manner. Trials must be timely. The prosecution prepares a case file, including testimony and other evidence, and provides a copy for the defense.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
In May authorities released 40 detainees arrested following the October 2020 postelection violence. Nine of the released detainees were arrested by security forces for their proximity to the October 2020 mob attack on a freight train operated by the aluminum producer Rusal, in which according to government and press reports attackers killed four security force members.
On September 5, Colonel Doumbouya and the CNRD announced their intention to release all political prisoners and activists imprisoned during former president Conde’s administration. The CNRD requested that the Ministries of Justice and Defense coordinate closely with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the prison administration, and lawyers to release all the detainees.
Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution and law prohibit such actions, but police reportedly ignored legal procedures in the pursuit of criminal suspects, including when it served their personal interests. Authorities sometimes removed persons from their homes without legal authorization, stole their personal belongings, and demanded payment for the release of their belongings.
The government continued to arrest or punish family members for alleged offenses committed by relatives.
Freedom of Expression, Including for the Members of the Press and Other Media
The September 27 Transition Charter provides for freedom of expression, including for members of the press and other media, and stipulates laws pertaining to freedom of expression, which were in place prior to the September 5 coup d’etat, would remain in force.
On September 5, Colonel Doumbouya and the CNRD announced their intention to release all political prisoners and activists imprisoned during former president Conde’s administration. The CNRD requested that the Ministries of Justice and Defense coordinate closely with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the prison administration, and lawyers to release all the detainees
Prior to September 5, the constitution and law provided for freedom of expression, including for the press, but there were multiple reports of government efforts to intimidate the press and restrict press freedom.
In January three journalists detained since 2018 from the private radio station Nostalgie FM, were prosecuted for “defamation, slanderous denunciation, and insults.” The journalists were sentenced on January 13 to two months’ imprisonment with suspended sentences and fined.
During a 2018 episode of their radio show Africa 2025, a former teacher from the undergraduate school Saint Joseph de Cliny called in to denounce the working conditions at the school. In response the director of the school filed a complaint against the journalists who hosted the broadcast.
The Conde government restricted and disrupted access to the internet. It did not censor online content, and there were no credible reports the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority. The Conde government, however, monitored social media platforms and exploited the law to punish journalists for posting or sharing information critical of the government.
Freedom of Movement and the Right to Leave the Country
Police and gendarmes regularly established random checkpoints where they routinely asked drivers to pay “tolls” or other illegal fees. Police and gendarmes occasionally robbed and beat travelers at these checkpoints and sometimes threatened them with death.
Prior to September 5, the constitution and law provided for freedom of expression, including for the press, but there were multiple reports of government efforts to intimidate the press and restrict press freedom
In August, as a part of government measures to provide financial relief to drivers facing higher fuel prices, the minister of security announced the formal prohibition of any law enforcement officer from extorting drivers and other transporters, noting that law enforcement officers who erected unauthorized checkpoints would face sanction.
Protection of Refugees
The government cooperated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, returning refugees, or asylum seekers, as well as other persons of concern.
Access to Asylum: The Transition Charter and laws provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. The law on the right of asylum and the protection of refugees has provisions to protect individuals from deportation.
Elections and Political Participation
Political Parties and Political Participation: There were no official restrictions on political party formation beyond registration requirements. Parties may not represent a single region or ethnicity. The Conde government in some cases delayed opposition party registration.
As of September 5, the government continued to deny accreditation to Bloc for Change in Guinea, despite a ruling by the ECOWAS Court of Justice, and to the Liberal Democratic Movement, despite an injunction by the Supreme Court in January to accredit the party. The government was accused of conditioning both parties’ accreditation on their commitment not to oppose the government or join the political opposition.
Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: No laws limit participation of women or members of minority groups in the political process and they did participate. Observers noted, however, there were cultural constraints on women’s political participation, evidenced by the low rate of women occupying influential political or government positions.
Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
Corruption: Conde administration authorities prosecuted very few cases, and even fewer resulted in convictions. Allegations of corruption ranged from lowlevel functionaries and managers of state enterprises to ministers and the presidency.
Officials allegedly diverted public funds for private use or for illegitimate public uses, such as buying expensive vehicles for government workers. Land sales and business contracts generally lacked transparency. Business leaders asserted regulatory procedures were opaque and facilitated corruption.
In November 2020 several local media sources published a story implicating the minister of technical education and vocational training, Zenab Nabaya Drame, in the embezzlement of approximately GNF 219 billion ($22.3 million) as minister and while serving in former positions as finance director in the Ministries of Health and Agriculture.
Discrimination and Societal Abuses
In domestic violence cases, authorities may file charges under general assault, which carries sentences of two to five years in prison and fines. Violence against a woman that causes an injury is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine.
The government cooperated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, returning refugees, or asylum seekers, as well as other persons of concern
If the injury causes mutilation, amputation, or other loss of body parts, it is punishable by 20 years of imprisonment; if the victim dies, the crime is punishable by life imprisonment. Assault constitutes grounds for divorce under civil law, but police rarely intervened in domestic disputes, and courts rarely punished perpetrators.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Although the Transition Charter does not explicitly prohibit FGM/C, it grants individuals the right to their physical integrity. Prior to September 5, the constitution and laws prohibited FGM/C.
The country had an extremely high FGM/C prevalence rate. According to a 2018 UNICEF survey, 94.5 percent of women and girls ages 15 to 49 had undergone the procedure, which was practiced throughout the country and among all religious and ethnic groups. The rate of FGM/C for girls between the ages of six and 14 dropped six percentage points since 2015.
Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination
The country’s population was diverse, with three main linguistic groups and several smaller ones. While the law prohibits racial or ethnic discrimination, allegations of discrimination against members of all major ethnic groups occurred in private-sector hiring. Ethnic segregation of urban neighborhoods and ethnically divisive rhetoric during political campaigns were common. The government made little effort to address these problems.
Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The law criminalizes early and forced marriage. The legal age for marriage is 18. Ambiguity remains, however, because the law refers to customary marriages for minors who receive consent from both their parents or their legal guardian. According to women’s rights NGOs, the prevalence rate remained high.
Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, which is punishable by three years in prison; however, there were no known prosecutions during the year. The Office for the Protection of Women, Children, and Morals (OPROGEM), a part of the Ministry of Security, includes a unit for investigating morals offenses, including same-sex sexual conduct.
The Transitional Charter and existing laws do not protect the rights of LGBTQI+ persons. The Transitional Charter describes marriage and the traditional family unit as the foundation of the country’s society. LGBTQI+ persons were subject to employment and housing discrimination. There were no official or NGO reports of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, although societal stigma likely prevented survivors from reporting abuse or harassment.
Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law protects workers from antiunion discrimination. The law prohibits employers from taking union membership into consideration when considering decisions concerning an employee’s hiring, firing, and conduct. It also allows workers 30 days to appeal any labor decisions and provides for reinstatement of any employee fired for union activity.
The Office of the Inspector General of Labor within the Ministry of Labor manages consensus arbitration, as required by law. Employers often imposed binding arbitration, particularly in “essential services.”
Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation
The law includes dispositions against sexual harassment and discrimination based on race, color, national origin, citizenship, social origin, age, language, or HIV positive status or other communicable disease status. The government took no steps to prevent discrimination in employment and occupation. Penalties were not commensurate with similar crimes.
Acceptable Conditions of Work
The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing labor standards, and its inspectors are empowered to suspend work immediately in situations deemed hazardous to workers’ health. The law contains general provisions regarding occupational safety and health, but the government did not establish a set of appropriate workplace health and safety standards.
Moreover, it did not issue any orders stipulating the appropriate safety requirements for certain occupations or for certain methods of work as called for in the law. All workers, foreign and migrant included, have the right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions without penalty.
In June an employee in a steel manufacturing plant died of severe burns in the industrial area of Dubreka. Investigators noted that the Ministry of Labor was not informed of the accident, and subsequently the minister ordered an immediate stop to the company’s activities demanding its general management provide an explanation on the situation.
Informal Sector: The informal sector included 60 to 70 percent of all workers. The law applies to the informal sector, but it was seldom enforced. The minimum wage covers all sectors but was not applied in the large informal sector. Boys frequently worked in the informal sectors of subsistence farming, small-scale commerce, street vending, shining shoes, and mining.