Guinea: Justice and dialogue must respond to violence

Press release
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FIDH and its member organisation in Guinea, OGDH, remain highly concerned about the current political and security situation in Conakry. Certain areas of Conakry remain the scene of violence seven days after the outbreak of clashes that led to the death of at least nine people. FIDH and OGDH call upon all actors for calm and for the opening of a judicial inquiry to identify the authors of these violence acts.

The Guinean capital has seen much fighting since a demonstration on Wednesday 27 February. From Thursday, 28 February, violence erupted on the fringes of the dead city strikes called for by opposition parties, in particular at Madina market where the violence took an ethnic dimension.

Fighting with members of the security forces continued throughout the night on 1 to 2 March, particularly in the area of Koloma. According to corroborated reports, many persons have suffered gunshot wounds, and an underage teenage boy has died from his injuries.

An assessment of the hostilities since 27 February, indicate at least 9 deaths, including one police officer, and over 200 persons injured in the clashes.

“What has happened in Conakry over these last few days has overshadowed the episodes of violence seen during previous demonstrations. Necessary measures must be taken, starting with a proper judicial inquiry to shed light on these events and give victims appropriate reparation” said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.

On Friday 1 March, the President of the Republic and main political heads addressed a message to the nation, calling for calm and restraint. Our organisations welcome these this initiatives and the meeting held on 4 March 2013 between President of the Republic and representatives of the opposition. At the end of this meeting, the President announced the establishment of a consultative framework between the Guinean government and politicians involved in the electoral process. This framework should allow the discussion of many different claims, particularly those relating to the choice of the electoral operator and to the votes of Guinean citizens living abroad.

“Resiezing political dialogue in the country is a step forward in establishing a consensus on the next legislative election, which must be transparent, inclusive and take place within a reasonable time” said FIDH President, Souhayr Belhassen.

However, the situation in Conakry remains insecure. Indeed, ongoing violence even after this first meeting occasioned the death of two persons during the night of Monday to Tuesday. FIDH and OGDH call upon the Guinean authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure order is maintained in compliance with fundamental freedoms and international commitments undertaken by Guinea. The authorities must particularly respect their commitment to using only conventional and non-lethal weapons, as required under the 1990 United Nations principles on the use of weapons and guns by persons responsible for the application of law.

“In these violent times, we can only feel relieved by a return to dialogue. This difficult situation shall bring all political protagonists to act in finding appeasement, which is a prerequisite for the success of political dialogue” said Thierno Sow, OGDH President. Today, the Guinean people are asking for an end to democratic transition and to start planning for the future. This process primarily needs the strengthening of the State of law and an exemplary electoral process which shall ensure the non-repetition of such fighting.”

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