ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the violent repression of protests by the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) in Guinea on Monday 14 October 2019. The bloody crackdown is a blow to freedom of expression and the young democracy in the country.
At least nine people were killed, nearly one hundred wounded and several arrests made following the crackdown on the NDFC march in Conakry and several cities across the country. In addition, 48 hours before it was held, the security forces carried out a series of arrests of civil society actors and opinion leaders, including: Abdourahmane Sanoh (Coordinator of the FNDC), Abdoulaye Oumou Sow (Blogger), Bailo Diallo (Activist), Badra Koné (Deputy Mayor of the commune of Matam).
FNDC members and their supporters have been placed under a committal order and are being prosecuted for “maneuvers and acts likely to endanger public safety or cause serious public disorder” and are to be tried in court this Friday 18 October after postponement of the hearing on Wednesday.
“This violence by the police must not go unpunished”, said Fatou Jagne Senghor, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 Senegal / West Africa.
“It is essential that the authorities release unconditionally all protestors arrested for exercising their rights, and bring to justice those responsible for the bloody violence. We offer our sincere condolences to the victims and the families of the victims.” she added.
ARTICLE 19 remains deeply concerned about the course of events in the Republic of Guinea ahead of the parliamentary elections, scheduled for December 2019 and one year ahead of the presidential election.
Such violence undermines democracy. The Government of Guinea has violated its own 2010 constitution, which in its Article 10 states that “All citizens have the right to demonstration and procession”. It also violates regional and international instruments to which Guinea has subscribed: the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
ARTICLE 19 reiterates its consternation at the law adopted by the National Assembly on 25 June 2019 on the use of firearms by the police, the explanatory note of which stresses the need to protect police who use force against prosecution in revenge justice. We also denounce the approach taken by the Guinean authorities to disallow political demonstrations, citing risks to public security, since July 2018. This is a real setback for democracy and a serious attack on freedom of expression.
“Guaranteeing citizens the right to express their political opinions, including the right to protest, gives meaning to the democratic system desired by all parties in Guinea and contributes to citizens’ trust in their administration. These rights are essential for democracy, and must be protected.” said Fatou Jagne Senghor.
We urge the Guinean authorities to:
- Unconditionally release all activists, leaders, members of civil society and other citizens arrested before, during and after the demonstrations for exercising their right to freedom of expression;
- Set up, as soon as possible, an independent and transparent investigation in order to bring to justice the perpetrators of the repression of the march. This will be one of the best ways to fight against impunity;
- Ensure effective compliance with the constitution, and regional and international instruments that guarantee public freedoms and human rights, in particular freedom of expression.
- Refrain from explicitly or implicitly prohibiting street demonstrations when they are informed, take legal measures to secure them, abstain from any use of lethal force during public events and guarantee to all citizens effective exercise of their freedom of expression, including the right to oppose and protest.
For more information, please contact:
Eliane NYOBE, Senior Program Assistant, ARTICLE 19 West Africa at [email protected]: +221 33 869 03 22