Guinea: Escalation of the repression against civil society

PERU (1)

ProtectDefenders.eu has received worrying information about the situation in Guinea. Civil society is facing ever-growing repression and the space for civil society continues to shrink. The military junta has taken a new step in suppressing all dissenting voices and restricting the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression in the country.

By an order dated August 6, 2022, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Mr Mory Condé, announced the dissolution of the Front national pour la défense de la constitution (FNDC) –  a citizens’ movement created in April 2019 –  on the grounds that they organize armed demonstrations on the public highway and that it is not one of the approved NGOs in the country. This dissolution occurred without prior notification and without the possibility for the FNDC to make observations or disputes.

The decision came just as the FNDC announced the resumption of demonstrations after an unsuccessful truce requested by Umaro Sissoco Embalo, current president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which was to allow a favourable outcome to the ongoing crisis between the FNDC and the Guinean authorities.

The military junta in power in Guinea has been targeting the movement and its members for several months in a clear desire to silence them and hinder citizen mobilisation.

On July 30, the leaders of the FNDC, Oumar Sulla and Ibrahima Diallo, were brutally arrested. These arrests follow the violently repressed demonstrations of July 28 and 29, 2022, organised by the FNDC, during which several individuals were killed. The two activists have since been charged with: «criminal participation in a crowd», «intentional assault and battery», «conspiracy», «obstruction of freedom of movement», «complicity», «burning and looting» and «destruction of private property», and were placed under a warrant of committal at the Central house in Conakry where they are currently arbitrarily detained.

In addition, Mr Charles Wright, Minister of Justice, asked the General Prosecutor’s Office of Conakry to initiate proceedings for «defamation» and «disclosure of false information» against the FNDC. Indeed, the movement denounced, on August 1, 2022, the deadly repression of FNDC citizen demonstrations to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This is the second time in July 2022 that Oumar Sylla has been arrested. On July 5, 2022, he was violently detained with two other activists (Billo Bahof TLP-Guinée and Djanii Alpha of FNDC) while holding a press conference on socio-political news concerning the latest conclusions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). They were forcibly taken to the Central Headquarters of the Judicial Police and released on July 8, 2022 by the Dixinn Court of First Instance three days later.

Guinea ranks 84 on RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index. Media pluralism is a reality in Guinea, and journalists enjoy a degree of freedom of expression. However, journalists are still being arrested and detained. They are often victims of violence and assault, especially during political demonstrations. Media professionals also receive death threats and are harassed on social networks. Those who commit these attacks are frequently law enforcement officers, political party militants and activists, the vast majority of whom face no consequences.