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TITLE:  GUINEA-BISSAU HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                         GUINEA-BISSAU


The Republic of Guinea-Bissau held its first multiparty 
elections in July and August, electing Joao Bernardo Vieira 
President.  Vieira has ruled the country since taking power in 
a 1980 coup.  He is also the president of the African Party for 
the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) which 
was the only legal political party from independence in 1974 
until the 1991 adoption of a multiparty Constitution.  Despite 
a few minor irregularities in the first round, international 
observers judged the elections free and fair.  The PAIGC won 62 
of the 100 seats in the new National Assembly where 4 other 
parties are represented.  The Constitution provides for an 
independent judiciary.

The police, under the direction of the Ministry of Internal 
Administration, called the Ministry of Interior until November, 
have primary responsibility for the nation's internal security; 
they committed human rights abuses in 1994.  The armed forces 
are responsible for external security, and can assist the 
police in internal emergencies.

The population of 1 million relies largely on subsistence 
agriculture.  Guinea-Bissau has an annual per capita gross 
domestic product estimated at $200.  The economy grew in 1994, 
with an emerging private sector leading the way.  However, the 
economy remains precarious because of the heavy external debt 
burden and inadequate tax revenues.

The human rights situation continued to improve, with 
multiparty elections and the November installation of a 
pluralistic government.  Nevertheless, the police engaged in 
intimidation, arbitrary detention, physical mistreatment of 
detainees, and occasional harassment of opposition parties.  No 
members of the security forces were tried or punished for 
abuses.  Societal discrimination against women continued.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killing.

The 1992 death of Ussumane Quade, an army officer beaten to 
death while in police custody, remains unresolved.  Human 
rights monitors continue to press for a thorough and impartial 
investigation of his death, ostensibly a suicide, but the 
police refuse to cooperate.

The March 17, 1993 assassination of the commander of an elite 
army unit resulted in conviction and a 15-year prison term for 
the confessed killer, Amadou Mane (see also Section 1.e.).

     b.  Disappearance

There were no known cases of disappearance.

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

The Constitution prohibits cruel and inhuman punishment, and 
evidence obtained through torture or other coercion is 
invalid.  However, the Government often ignores these 
provisions.  Security and police authorities have historically 
employed torture and abusive interrogation methods, usually in 
the form of severe beatings or deprivation.  The Government 
rarely enforces legal provisions prescribing punishment for 
these abuses.

Prison conditions are poor, but generally not life-threatening.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The legal system provides for procedural rights, such as the 
right to counsel, the right to release if no timely indictment 
is brought, and the right to a speedy public trial.  In 
practice, the judicial system generally fails to provide these 
rights.

Police detain suspects without judicial authority or warrants, 
occasionally through the device of house arrest.  The 
Government holds detainees without charge or trial for extended 
periods of time, sometimes incommunicado.  In February police 
detained the president of the National Teachers Union, Luis 
Nancassa for 3 days without charges; the police released him 
without charge after appeals from a variety of leaders and the 
threat of a prolonged teachers' strike.

Human rights monitors estimate that pretrial detainees arrested 
without warrants and imprisoned without charges make up 90 
percent of the prison population.  The authorities do not 
routinely observe bail procedures.

There were no known cases of forced exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Traditional law still prevails in most rural areas, and urban 
dwellers often bring judicial disputes to traditional 
counselors to avoid the costs and bureaucratic impediments of 
the official legal system.  Police often resolve disputes.

Because of low salaries and poor training, judges are sometimes 
subject to political pressures and corruption.  In May, 
however, the Supreme Court resisted pressure from a number of 
parties and ruled that all eight presidential candidates were 
eligible to run.  The system is sometimes capable of providing 
fair trial, even in very controversial cases.  For example, 
after the police arrested 49 persons, including two prominent 
members of opposition political parties for the 1993 
assassination of an army officer, an investigation by a joint 
military/police commission of inquiry resulted in the police 
charging 17 persons with a variety of offenses.  The trials, in 
a military court, received wide media attention and were 
considered fair.  The court exonerated the two politicians, 
sentenced most of the other detainees to terms of 2 to 8 years, 
and sentenced the killer, Amadou Mane, to 15 years in prison.  
Mane testified that senior security officials compelled him to 
accuse the politicians falsely of attempting a coup.

Citizens who cannot afford an attorney have the right to a 
court-appointed lawyer.

Under the new constitutional provisions which took effect in 
November, military tribunals will only try cases of a strictly 
military nature.  Civilian courts will now try state security 
cases.  The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal for both 
civilian and military cases.  The President has constitutional 
authority to grant pardons and reduce sentences.

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

The Constitution provides for the inviolability of domicile, 
person, and correspondence, but the Government does not always 
respect these rights.  The authorities examine international 
and domestic mail, the security forces seldom use judicial 
warrants, and the police sometimes force entry into private 
homes.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press.  
The Government owns and controls the only television station 
and the major radio station.  In mid-1994 a station affiliated 
with Radio France International began broadcasting under a 
bilateral agreement.  At least one opposition political party 
has been seeking a radio license since 1993.

There are two regularly published independent newspapers, which 
are often critical of the Government, and several opposition 
parties and the Human Rights League produce monthly 
publications.  However, journalists continued to practice 
self-censorship.

Television, radio, and newspapers provided a relatively 
balanced selection of public opinion during the July and August 
electoral campaign.  All opposition political parties took 
advantage of access to television and radio air time.

Academic freedom is observed in schools and research 
institutions.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association.  The Government requires prior approval for all 
assemblies and demonstrations but permitted all opposition 
political rallies which were requested.  In late July the 
Ministry of Interior attempted to constrain opposition efforts 
to support a single candidate in the second round of voting by 
prohibiting campaign assistance to third parties.  The National 
Election Commission overruled the Ministry, and all opposition 
parties united behind the presidential candidacy of Dr. Koumba 
Yala.  On February 8 police halted and dispersed a protest 
march organized by the National Federation of Independent Trade 
Unions (see Section 6.a.).

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and the 
Government respects this right.  While religious groups must be 
licensed by the Government, none were refused licenses.  
Jehovah's Witnesses began missionary activities in 1994.

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

The Government does not restrict movement within the country 
and generally does not restrict foreign travel and emigration.  
However, the Ministry of Interior used its authority to issue 
passports to deny temporarily freedom of movement to one 
opposition politician.  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 decreased to an estimated 13,600 as 
peace in Senegal's Casamance region encouraged some Senegalese 
refugees to return.  The Government 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

For the first time in the country's history, voters were able 
to choose their government in multiparty elections judged by 
international observers to be free and fair although they 
acknowledged irregularities.  The PAIGC, the former ruling and 
only legal political party, retained power by winning 62 of the 
100 seats in the new National Assembly.  There are 2 opposition 
blocs in the legislature, each with 19 seats.  The 
Guinea-Bissau Resistance/Bafata Movement elected 19 deputies; 3 
other parties joined together to form a second group of 19 
deputies.

Women are underrepresented in the political process.  One of 
the eight candidates for President in the recent national 
elections was a woman.  In the National Assembly 10 of the 100 
deputies are women, and they have formed a caucus across party 
lines.  Only 2 of the new Cabinet's 25 members are women.

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

The Government generally did not interfere with the 
Guinea-Bissau Human Rights League and international human 
rights groups, which continued to investigate human rights 
abuses.  However, the police did occasionally harass members of 
the League.  In addition, the League's conference on police and 
prisoner reform, which was to have featured Adama Dieng, 
secretary general of the International Commission of Jurists, 
was canceled when the Government prohibited security staff from 
attending.

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

     Women

Discrimination against women persists although officially 
prohibited by law.  Women are responsible for most work on 
subsistence farms and have limited access to education, 
especially in rural areas.  Women do not have equal access to 
employment.  Among certain ethnic groups, women cannot own or 
manage land or inherit property.

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 taken 
any measures to counter social pressure against reporting 
domestic violence, rape, incest, and other mistreatment of 
women.

     Children

Although there is no pattern of societal abuse against 
children, within certain ethnic groups, especially the Fulas 
and Mandinkas, female genital mutilation (FGM) is widespread.  
Despite official prohibition of this practice which 
international health experts have condemned as dangerous to 
both physical and psychological health, the Government has not 
taken effective action to halt FGM.  The Ministry of Public 
Health initiated a poster campaign against FGM in 1994.  The 
Government allocates only limited resources for children's 
welfare and education.

     People with Disabilities

There is no legislation mandating accessibility to buildings or 
government services for people with disabilities.

The law does not specifically prohibit discrimination against 
people with disabilities, and the Government does not ensure 
equal access to employment and education.  The State has made 
some effort to assist disabled veterans through pension 
programs, but these programs do not adequately address 
veterans' health, housing, and food needs.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution provides to all civilian workers the freedom 
to form and join independent trade unions.  However, the vast 
majority of the population works in subsistence agriculture; 
only a small percentage of workers are in the wage sector and 
are organized.

The Government registers all labor unions.  There are 11 labor 
unions registered and operating.  All unions are officially 
independent of the Government, but seven unions are affiliated 
with the National Trade Union Confederation (UNTG), which 
retains informal ties with the PAIGC.  The law does not favor 
UNTG-affiliated unions over others.  The Constitution provides 
for the right to strike and protection from retribution against 
strike activities.

The only legal restriction on strikes is the requirement for 
prior notice, including the reasons for the strike and its 
expected duration.  The National Teachers Union conducted the 
only legal strike; its grievances were never fully resolved, 
and despite laws prohibiting such practices, employers 
retaliated against the strikers.  According to union and human 
rights monitors, several teachers supporting the strike lost 
their jobs or were transferred to positions of lesser 
responsibility.  Several other labor disputes were resolved by 
nonbinding arbitration conducted by unions or the Ministry of 
Public Works, Civil Service and Administrative Reform.

All unions are free to affiliate with national confederations 
and international labor organizations of their choice.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution does not provide for or protect the right to 
bargain collectively, and 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.

The Government's provision for the protection of workers 
against antiunion discrimination has little effect where union 
membership is low.  The Government did not adopt any laws to 
establish penal sanctions against employers practicing such 
discrimination.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is illegal, and it is not known to 
exist.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The General Labor Act of 1986 established a minimum age of 14 
years for general factory labor and 18 years for heavy or 
dangerous labor, including all labor in mines.  These minimum 
age requirements are generally followed in the small wage 
sector, but the Ministry of Civil Service and Labor does not 
enforce these requirements in other sectors.  Children in 
cities often work in street trading, and those in rural 
communities do domestic and field work without pay.  The 
Government does not attempt to discourage these traditional 
practices.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Government's Council of Ministers annually establishes 
minimum wages for all categories of work but does not enforce 
them.  The lowest monthly wage is less than $10 (140,555 
pesos).  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.  The maximum number of hours permitted 
in a normal workweek without further compensation is 45, but 
the Government does not enforce this provision.

The Ministry of Civil Service and Labor establishes legal 
health and safety standards for workers, with the cooperation 
of the unions, which are then adopted into law by the National 
Assembly.  However, the Government does not enforce these 
standards, and many persons work in conditions which endanger 
their health and safety.

(###)

[end of document]

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