Joint letter to the Prime Minister
Dear Prime Minister,
Our organisations, Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT-France), Acting Together for Human Rights (AEDH) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), are deeply concerned about the deterioration of the current political climate in the Republic of Guinea. and by the choice made by the National Rally Committee for Development (CNRD), on May 13, 2022, to prevent all demonstrations by the opposition and civil society by prohibiting “any demonstration on the public highway, likely to undermine social peace and the proper execution of the activities contained in the chronogram until the periods of the electoral campaign”.
These measures restricting the right to demonstrate risk generating more tension in the country and, in the case of public gatherings, possible violent actions by law enforcement, as well as a disproportionate use of force and to firearms.
CNRD’s announcement caused serious concern among many human rights organizations and led to public statements – including one from Amnesty International on May 18, 2022 and seven international organizations on May 25, 2022 – calling on the CNRD ” to reconsider its decision to ban the demonstrations”. On May 30, 2022, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the CNRD to restore the right to protest.
On May 31, 2022, the CNRD publicly confirmed that “no march will be allowed until security guarantees are met”.
The decision to ban all demonstrations for an indefinite period throughout Guinea, without specific justification, constitutes a violation of the right to demonstrate, a right recognized and guaranteed to all people in the Republic of Guinea in accordance with national legislation and international texts. ratified by the state. The argument that adequate safeguards for demonstrations in Guinea are lacking cannot be advanced, as it is the responsibility of the Guinean authorities to guarantee security while respecting the freedoms and rights of the demonstrators.
Guinean law, which protects the right to demonstrate, does not provide for a general ban on all demonstrations for an indefinite period. Instead, it requires protests to be handled on a case-by-case basis. It states that protest organizers must inform local authorities before any gathering and that local authorities can only ban a planned protest if there is “a proven threat to public order”.
Guinea is a party to international instruments such as Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), which protect the right to peaceful assembly.
Finally, the decision to ban the demonstrations contradicts the speech of the President of the Transition of September 5, 2002, in which he called for the establishment of democracy and respect for fundamental freedoms in the country, as well as the Charter of the Transition , signed on September 27, 2021 by the President of the Transition, whose article 34 stipulates that “the freedoms of association, assembly, press and publication are guaranteed”, adding to article 8, paragraph 2 that “no exceptional or emergency situation justifies violation of human rights”. The decision to ban the demonstrations does not comply with the Transition’s Charter.
Our organizations believe that the measures announced to restrict public gatherings and demonstrations are likely to cause an increase in tensions in the country and increase the risk of disproportionate use of force by law enforcement, but also violence by those who are denied the right to demonstrate, as Guinea experiences a cycle of protests and repression that has resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people, most of them victims of the forces order, between October 2019 and July 2020.
To date, the perpetrators and those responsible for these human rights violations have not been punished or brought to justice. The same goes for those responsible for previous crackdowns, including in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
Our organizations believe that the recent measures taken by the CNRD constitute a step backwards for the rule of law and are only intended to repress any public protest in the months to come, in a context where several political and civil society are dissatisfied with the ongoing transition and the decision to extend it to 36 months.
In this context of growing popular discontent and impunity for the perpetrators and those responsible for human rights violations, our organisations, alarmed by the risks that this situation engenders, urge the Guinean authorities in place to:
Respect, in all circumstances, the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly;
Repeal their general ban on all public demonstrations and immediately restore the right to peaceful assembly;
Ensure that all Guineans can express themselves and demonstrate peacefully in all circumstances, including before and during electoral periods;
Ensure that peaceful assemblies and demonstrations are regulated in accordance with international human rights norms and standards in accordance with the Guidelines for Police in
Assembled by law enforcement officials in Africa, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa and the United Nations Basic Principles on the Remedy to force and the use of firearms by law enforcement officials.