Guinea: Pattern of bloody crackdown on protesters must end

Photo: © Dominic Chavez/World Bank/ Flickr

ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the killing of protesters and the prevailing culture of impunity in Guinea. The tragic events that unfolded during a demonstration in Conakry on 10 May, when security forces responded with violence, resulted in the loss of seven lives and numerous people being injured. These events are a grave violation of human rights, and we call on the authorities to immediately initiate an independent, impartial, and transparent investigation into these incidents. 

It is crucial to identify and hold accountable those responsible for the acts of violence, ensuring that justice is served. The Guinean government must fulfil its legal obligation to protect and respect the human rights of all individuals, in accordance with international standards and regional commitments as set out below.

The Forces vives de Guinée, a coalition of opposition groups, bringing together political parties, unions and non-governmental organisations, called for demonstrations and demanded a range of important issues to be addressed, including the release of political prisoners and the initiation of a dialogue in accordance with conditions endorsed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Unfortunately, the demonstrations that commenced on the evening of 9 May quickly turned violent in several neighbourhoods, resulting in numerous casualties. The Forces Vives de Guinée, in a statement released on 10 May, reported a distressing toll from the unrest. At least seven individuals have lost their lives, and 32 others have been injured by gunfire. Additionally, over 56 people have been arrested in connection with these events.

The authorities have dismissed these figures as false and purely imaginary. However, the testimony from one victim’s mother further highlights the unnecessary and excessive use of lethal force by the security forces.

Alfred Bulakali, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 Senegal West Africa, said: ‘We are deeply concerned about the reports of violence and loss of life during the recent protest in Conakry. The right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental human rights, and the Guinean government has a legal obligation to protect and respect these rights for all citizens. It is crucial that the authorities conduct an independent and impartial investigation into these tragic events, identify those responsible, and ensure that justice is served.’

It is the duty of the government to safeguard these rights for all citizens. We urge the Guinean government to foster an environment that allows peaceful protests to take place without unnecessary interference, while providing adequate security for participants. The use of excessive or disproportionate force against protesters is unacceptable and must be addressed.

‘ARTICLE 19 calls on the Guinean government to promote dialogue and peaceful resolution of grievances, and to establish mechanisms that allow citizens to express their legitimate concerns and demands without fear of reprisals,’ Alfred Bulakali c威而鋼 ontinued.

The recurring pattern of bloody crackdowns on protests in Guinea necessitates a comprehensive and long-term solution. This will include ensuring justice by holding accountable those responsible for human rights violations, reforming the policy framework to respect the right to peaceful assembly, providing education and training to security forces on human rights and non-violent crowd management, engaging in dialogue with civil society organisations and protest organisers, and strengthening democratic institutions to promote accountability and transparency. These measures collectively aim to address the root causes, prevent unnecessary repression, and foster an environment where peaceful protests are respected and human rights are upheld.’

In line with international human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Guinea is obligated to respect, protect, and fulfil these rights. The Guinean Constitution also guarantees fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

To create lasting change, the Guinean government must establish effective mechanisms to ensure the protection of protesters and their rights. This includes comprehensive investigations into acts of violence and human rights violations during protests, impartially holding perpetrators accountable, and providing appropriate reparations to the victims.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Guinean government to prioritise dialogue and peaceful resolution of grievances. Constructive engagement with all stakeholders, including the Forces Vives de Guinée, is vital to address concerns and establish a platform for open discussions. Protecting the right to express legitimate concerns and demands without fear of reprisals is essential for a democratic society. Furthermore, we are calling on the AU Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association to urgently investigate the recurring pattern of bloody crackdowns, use of lethal force, and impunity in Guinea, to advocate for comprehensive policy and legal reforms, training and capacity-building for security forces, ensuring transparency and accountability, fostering dialogue and engagement, supporting civil society, and strengthening cooperation with regional and international human rights mechanisms to address these grave violations and uphold the rights to peaceful assembly and association.

For more information, please contact:

Maateuw Mbaye, Program Assistant, ARTICLE 19 Senegal/West Africa Email:   T: +221785958337

Aissata Diallo Dieng, Office Manager, ARTICLE 19 Senegal/West Africa Email:   T:+221338690322