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TITLE:  GUINEA-BISSAU HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                         
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is led by General Joao Bernardo 
Vieira, who serves as Head of State, President of the Council 
of State, Commander in Chief, and General Secretary of the 
previously sole legal political party, the African Party for 
the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC).  In 
elections held in June 1989, Vieira, the only candidate, was 
elected for a second 5-year term as President.  Effective power 
and day-to-day decisions rest in the hands of the President and 
the Council of State.  The Government controls the pace of 
political reform and in 1993 formed a National Elections 
Commission charged with organizing legislative and presidential 
elections in March 1994.  In accordance with the 1991 
Constitution, it legalized 12 political parties, including the 
PAIGC, which are expected to participate in these elections.  
Only the PAIGC is represented in the National Assembly.

The national police forces have primary responsibility for 
internal security, while the armed forces (FARP) provide for 
external security and may be called upon to assist with 
internal security in case of emergency.  Both institutions are 
under the control of the Government and were responsible for 
human rights abuses.

The population of 1 million is engaged largely in subsistence 
agriculture.  There are some exports of cashews, peanuts, and 
fish.  Following the Government's failed postindependence 
efforts to exercise central control over the economy, the PAIGC 
started liberalizing the economy in 1986.  International 
Monetary Fund stabilization and World Bank restructuring 
agreements led to some improvement in the economic situation.  
However, the economy remained weak due to the lack of monetary 
and fiscal control, a small and inexperienced private sector, 
and a heavy debt burden.

Although progress was made, notably in legislation providing 
for legislative and presidential elections, human rights 
remained circumscribed.  The Government continued its practices 
of arbitrary detentions, physical mistreatment and other forms 
of harassment, occasionally targeting supporters of opposition 
political parties.  Preferring indefinite detention in many 
instances, it rarely brings cases before the courts; and thus 
is often responsible for the denial of fair trial.  Controversy 
still surrounds the assassination of a key military commander, 
an incident which the Government claims was part of a coup 
attempt on March 17.  Members of the police and security forces 
were rarely tried or punished for abuses.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

In March the commander of the rapid reaction forces, Major 
Robalo, was murdered, allegedly by a man named Amadu Mane.  
Security forces captured Mane, who remained in prison awaiting 
trial at year's end.  Government and military officials alleged 
opposition party support for the killing, while opposition 
leaders accused the Government of instigating it.  The 
Government detained some 49 persons for involvement in the 
killing (see Section l.d.).

In August the authorities freed seven police officials jailed 
in 1992 for involvement in beating to death Ussumane Quade, a 
military officer, even though their trial had not concluded.  
The Government announced that Quade had committed suicide but 
refused to return his body to relatives for burial.  

     b.  Disappearance

There were no known cases of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Although the Constitution prohibits cruel and inhuman 
punishment, and evidence obtained through torture or other 
coercion is invalid, these constitutional provisions are rarely 
enforced.  Security and police authorities systematically 
employ torture and abusive interrogation methods, usually in 
the form of severe beatings, and are rarely punished.  Prison 
conditions are poor but not life threatening.  There were no 
reported deaths as a result of imprisonment during 1993.  Women 
are kept in separate areas within prisons.  There were no 
reports of rape in prison in 1993.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

In the aftermath of the March 17 case, 49 persons were detained 
without charge or trial for 2 months while a military 
commission of inquiry investigated.  Among the detainees were 
the president of one opposition political party and an active 
member of another.

In June, following the commencement of closed trials by the 
Supreme Military Tribunal, 10 of the detainees, including those 
from the opposition, were released from prison, pending the 
outcome of charges--not yet specified--placed against them.  
Ambiguity surrounded the Tribunal's legal right to detain the 
suspects and conduct a commission of inquiry investigation.  
During the first 2 months of the detainees' imprisonment, the 
Government denied the defendants access to lawyers and family 
members, but authorized medical care and visits by the 
International Committee of the Red Cross and the Human Rights 
League of Guinea-Bissau (LDH).

The legal system provides for procedural rights, such as the 
right to counsel, the right to be released if charges are not 
brought within a short period of time, and the right to a 
speedy trial.  However, the judicial system generally fails to 
provide adequate protection of these rights.

Security and police forces continue to have the administrative 
power to detain suspects without reference to judicial 
authority or warrants, occasionally through the device of house 
arrest.  Once detained, the Government holds persons without 
charge or trial for extended periods of time, sometimes 
incommunicado.  Bail procedures are not routinely observed.  

The number of political detainees (pretrial) and prisoners held 
at year's end was unknown.  Human rights monitors estimated 
that 90 percent of the prison population are pretrial detainees 
arrested without warrants and imprisoned without charges filed 
against them.  There were no known cases of exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Traditional law still prevails in most rural areas, and many 
urban dwellers bring judicial disputes to traditional 
counselors to avoid the costs and problems associated with the 
official legal system.  With some exceptions, the official 
judicial system is based on the Portuguese model, which does 
not use juries, and courts are usually composed of three 
judges, two assistants, and a presiding officer for a tribunal 
of six.  Because of low salaries and a lack of training, judges 
are sometimes subject to political pressures and corruption.  
Defendants have the right to private counsel or may choose to 
be represented by a court-appointed attorney who generally 
receives no pay.  Judges' determination as to who is given 
access to accusatory material and witnesses is sometimes 

Trials involving state security are conducted by the Supreme 
Military Tribunal and are usually not open to outside 
observers.  Military courts try all cases involving members of 
the armed forces as defendants or accused.  The Supreme Court 
is the final court of appeal for both civilian and military 
cases, except those involving national security matters.  In 
this instance the Council of State reviews all decisions.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The 1991 Constitution provides for the inviolability of 
domicile, person, and correspondence, but these rights are not 
always respected.  Judicial search warrants are seldom 
utilized.  International and domestic mail may be subject to 
surveillance, and police sometimes force entry into private 
homes.  Membership in the PAIGC, while not required, plays a 
role in government appointments and promotion opportunities, 
particularly in the interior.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press.  It 
states that citizens have the right to express themselves 
freely and make public their views by all means available, as 
well as having the right to be informed and to inform without 
hindrance or discrimination.  This right cannot be limited or 
hindered by any form of censorship.  Citizens openly debated 
the attributes of the 12 legalized political parties and their 

On August 2, by order of the Supreme Military Tribunal, the 
authorities arrested opposition leaders Joao Da Costa and Tagne 
Na Waie for having violated the conditions of their earlier 
release by engaging in political activities, notably by 
appearing on a television show and discussing various political 
subjects.  They were released on August 6 after a brief 
appearance before the Supreme Military Tribunal's prosecutor.

The television, radio, and newspapers continue to provide a 
relatively balanced selection of public opinion, and opposition 
political parties took advantage of their access to television 
and radio air time.

All media are owned and controlled by the Government, with the 
exception of several opposition party monthly publications and 
one irregularly appearing newspaper.  Strong criticism of the 
Government occurs only in the opposition papers.  The 
Government's PAIGC party tended to receive greater media 
coverage than other political groups.  Journalists continued to 
practice some self-censorship.  One opposition party 
unsuccessfully tried to establish its own radio station; it is 
not clear whether this initiative failed because of political 
or economic considerations.

Academic freedom is observed in schools and research 

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Although the Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association, government approval is required for all assemblies 
and demonstrations.  Most opposition parties, including several 
fledgling political and labor groups, held legal political 
rallies.  The opposition jointly organized and received 
government authorization for a demonstration in February which 
was closely supervised but not disturbed by security forces.  
There were continued credible reports of the local authorities 
verbally harassing opposition elements during rallies in the 

Several new professional, religious, and regionally oriented 
associations formed.  One new political party was legalized, 
bringing the total to 12.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Religious freedom is provided for in the Constitution and 
respected in practice.  Christians, Muslims, and animists 
worship freely, and proselytizing is permitted.  Religious 
groups must be licensed by the Government, but there were no 
reports of groups being refused licenses.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

In connection with the March 17 case, the authorities ordered 
opposition political party members Joao Da Costa and Tagne Na 
Waie to remain within the Bissau area unless their travel to 
other areas was authorized by the Supreme Military Tribunal.

Foreign travel and emigration are generally not restricted.  
Citizens have the right to return and are not subject to 
political revocation of their citizenship.  There are no 
provisions for asylum.

The number of refugees from the Casamance region of southern 
Senegal, where Senegalese troops have been fighting Casamance 
rebels, increased dramatically between the end of 1992 and 
mid-1993, with estimates of at least 14,000 persons, not 
including those who remained following fighting in 1990 and 
1991.  The Government cooperated with international relief 
efforts and continued its policy of placing no pressure on 
refugees to return to Senegal.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Although citizens are not free to change their government, slow 
progress was made towards democratic and multiparty 
presidential and legislative elections, now scheduled for 
March 27, 1994.  The National Assembly approved changes in the 
electoral law, including provisions for secret balloting and 
universal suffrage, and named several independent members to 
the National Elections Commission which began preparations for 
an electoral census and a civic education program.

While the Government consulted opposition parties to a greater 
degree than in the past, the Government continued to control 
the pace of reform, and the PAIGC-dominated National Assembly 
rejected some of the measures unanimously approved by the 
multiparty Transitional Commission established in 1992.

Some citizens are disqualified as presidential candidates 
because of a controversial new law requiring all candidates to 
have parents and at least one grandparent on both the maternal 
and paternal sides of the family born in Guinea-Bissau.

Women are inadequately represented in the political process.  
Two of 17 Cabinet ministers are women (one is head of the 
Ministry for the Advancement of Women).  In the National 
Assembly, 19 percent of the members are female.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Human Rights League of Guinea-Bissau (LDH) claims over 
3,000 members throughout the country and is the leading 
organization for advancing human rights.  It is funded by 
members' dues as well as by assistance from foreign 
nongovernmental organizations and several countries, including 
Germany and Sweden.  The LDH and international human rights 
monitors continued to investigate human rights cases without 
overt government interference until May, when the Government 
began refusing access to all prisoners on the basis of 
allegations of LDH involvement in the alleged March 17 coup 
attempt.  Members of the LDH reported occasional verbal 
harassment by police.  The Government did not respond to LDH 
reports on mistreatment of prisoners and poor prison 
conditions, or to Amnesty International's call for an inquiry 
into the death of Ussumane Quade (see Section 1.a.).

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


While officially prohibited by law, discrimination against 
women persists.  Women are responsible for the majority of the 
work on subsistence farms and have limited access to education, 
especially in the rural areas.  Women do not have equal access 
to employment opportunities, largely due to their level of 
education, and because, among certain ethnic groups, women are 
prohibited from owning or managing land and inheriting other 

Physical violence, including wife beating, is an accepted means 
of settling domestic disputes.  While police will intervene in 
domestic disputes if requested, the Government has not 
undertaken specific measures to counter social pressure against 
reporting domestic violence, rape, incest, and other 
mistreatment of women.  Rapes are infrequent.


Government expenditures on children's welfare are inadequate, 
but roughly commensurate with total resources available to the 
State.  There are no known patterns of societal abuses directed 
specifically against children.

Within certain ethnic groups, especially the Fulas and 
Mandinkas, female genital mutilation (circumcision) is still a 
widespread practice and occurs at an early age.  It continues 
to take place despite official prohibition and educational 
campaigns assisted by United Nations organizations which 
educate the public about the damaging physical and 
psychological aspects of the practice.

     People with Disabilities

The law does not specifically prohibit discrimination against 
people with disabilities, and in practice persons with 
disabilities have unequal access to employment and education.  
The State has made some efforts to assist disabled veterans 
through pension programs, but these programs do not adequately 
address veterans' health, housing, and nutritional needs.  
There is no legislation mandating accessibility.  

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The 1991 Constitution grants all workers except military 
personnel the freedom to form and join independent trade 
unions, and legislation approved in 1991 enumerates the rights 
and obligations of new unions.  The vast majority of the 
population is engaged in subsistence agriculture.  Only a small 
percentage of workers are in the wage sector and are organized.

There were 11 individual craft unions registered and operating 
during 1993.  All unions are officially independent of the 
Government, but seven unions are affiliated with the National 
Trade Union Confederation (UNTG) which still retains close 
informal ties to the PAIGC.  The four independent unions are 
comprised of teachers, transport and communications workers, 
judicial employees, and health workers.  The law does not favor 
UNTG-affiliated unions over others.  

The Constitution recognizes the right of workers to strike and 
in theory, workers have protection from retribution against 
strike activities.  The only legal restriction on strikes is 
the requirement for prior notice, which must include the 
reasons for the strike and its expected duration.  There were 
no illegal strikes in 1993.  Three legal strikes occurred:  two 
of these resulted in direct negotiations with government 
employers that satisfied most of the demands of the striking 
employees.  A third strike carried out by the Teachers' Union 
was not resolved, and despite laws prohibiting such practices, 
retribution against strikers took place.  Several teachers 
supporting the strike lost their jobs or were transferred to 
positions of lesser responsibility.  Several other labor 
disputes were resolved via nonbinding arbitration conducted by 
unions or by the Ministry of Public Works, Civil Service, and 
Administrative Reform.

All unions legally have and exercise the right to affiliate 
freely with national confederations and international labor 
organizations of their choice.  Unions cultivate contacts with 
a wide range of labor organizations worldwide.  UNTG is 
affiliated with the Organization of African Trade Union Unity.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution does not provide for or protect the right to 
bargain collectively, and in practice there were no instances 
of genuine collective bargaining.  Most wages are established 
in bilateral negotiations between workers and employers, taking 
into consideration the minimum salaries set annually by the 
Government's Council of Ministers.  Because of the shortage of 
wage-paying jobs, however, the employer in many cases is free 
to set salaries.  

The Government's provision for the protection of workers 
against antiunion discrimination has very little effect where 
union membership is very low.  Despite pressure from the 
International Labor Organization, no laws were adopted to 
establish penal sanctions against employers practicing such 

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is not permitted by law and not 
known to exist.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The General Labor Act of 1986 established a minimum age of 14 
for general factory labor and 18 for heavy or dangerous labor, 
including all labor in mines.  These minimum age requirements 
are generally followed in the small wage sector, but there is 
minimal enforcement by inspectors from the Ministry of 
Administrative Reform, Civil Service and Labor in other 
sectors.  Children in the cities are often involved in street 
trading, and those in rural communities do domestic and field 
work for no pay.  The Government does not attempt to discourage 
these traditional practices.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Although not consistently enforced, the Government's Council of 
Ministers establishes minimum wage rates for all categories of 
work, the lowest of which is the monthly wage of $13.95 
(150,000 Pesos), set annually.  This wage is inadequate to 
maintain even a minimum standard of living, and workers must 
supplement their income through other work, reliance on the 
extended family, and subsistence agriculture.  Although not 
enforced, the maximum number of hours in a normal workweek 
is 40.

Legal health and safety standards for workers are established 
through the cooperation of the unions and the Ministry of 
Administrative Reform, Civil Service, and Labor; they are then 
adopted into law by the National Assembly.  However, these 
standards are not enforced, and many persons work in conditions 
which endanger their health and safety.

[end of document]


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