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









                             GUINEA


The Government controlled the election of President Lansana 
Conte from start to finish and denied the opposition any 
significant role.  Complete management of the elections rested 
with the Ministry of Interior and Security.  The Government 
insisted on holding the elections, notwithstanding considerable 
pressure for postponement from the political opposition, 
outside observers, and religious leaders.  The National 
Electoral Commission, which began functioning only a few days 
before the elections, called for a postponement and refused to 
participate in the verification of results.  Opposition party 
observers, who were excluded from the final hours of 
vote-counting, contested the final results.  In January the 
Supreme Court rejected opposition legal challenges to the vote 
count and ruled that Lansana Conte had won the election on the 
first round with 51.7 percent of the vote.

The Gendarmerie and the National Police share responsibility 
for internal security.  The Government eliminated the 
Republican and Presidential Guards and incorporated these units 
into other existing units.  Both military personnel and police 
continue to commit human rights abuses.

Eighty percent of the population of 7 million engage in 
subsistence agriculture, and annual per capita gross domestic 
product is about $511.  Guinea's major exports are bauxite, 
gold, and diamonds.  The World Bank and the International 
Monetary Fund continued to contribute to Guinea's economic 
restructuring program.  This led, among other things, to a 
sharp reduction in the size of the public service.

Human rights remain circumscribed.  The Government dominated 
the electoral process and rejected opposition demands for 
important changes.  An independent press occasionally 
criticized the Government, but the latter owns and operates the 
electronic media, the major medium for reaching the vast 
majority of the public.

There were sporadic outbreaks of ethnically based violence and 
recourse to vigilante justice, prompted in part by increased 
violent criminal activity.  Major human rights abuses included 
extrajudicial killings by security forces; police abuse of 
prisoners and detainees; governmental failure to guarantee 
access by attorneys to clients in prison, where much abuse 
takes place with impunity; the Executive Branch's influence 
over the judicial system; the Government's continued neglect of 
the prison system; its domination of the electronic media, thus 
denying the political opposition the means to reach the 
populace; its denial of citizens' rights to change the 
government and its inability to prevent vigilante justice; and 
violence and discrimination against women.

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 targeted political killings, but there 
were several extrajudicial killings by security forces using 
excessive force.

In March military recruits in Labe rioted following an 
altercation in a bar in which a soldier nearly beat a civilian 
to death.  After family and friends of the civilian seized and 
flogged to death a military officer who had not been involved 
in the prior altercation, armed military recruits ransacked the 
neighborhood of the bar, wounding many people.  During the riot 
an elderly woman died of a gunshot wound.

On August 31, security forces in Kerouane used tear gas and 
fired shots in the air to disperse a crowd at a political 
opposition rally.  Two independent newspapers reported that two 
individuals died.  Ministry of Justice officials reported that 
an investigation would take place, although no results were 
reported by year's end.

Concerning the August 1993 death in police custody of Alseny 
Limam Kourouma, police reportedly tried to cover up the 
incident by forcing a doctor to issue a false death certificate 
listing heart failure as the cause of death.  The authorities 
suspended and detained the officer in charge of the station 
where the torture had reportedly occurred.  Authorities 
arrested and detained two officers who are still awaiting trial.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of abductions or disappearances.

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

The Penal Code and the Constitution prohibit torture and cruel, 
inhuman, and degrading treatment.  However, the police often 
use beatings to extract confessions and also employ other forms 
of brutality.

In February the police summarily punished a number of taxi 
drivers for illegally stopping or parking at the roadside.  The 
drivers received lashes across their buttocks while they were 
made to spread themselves over the hoods of their cars.  A few 
drivers reportedly required medical treatment due to the 
severity of the lashings.

On September 11 in N'Zerekore, local police harassed and then 
detained at their station an American citizen as she returned 
home that evening.  After leaving the station, an army soldier 
assaulted her and attempted to rape her.  Local, regional, and 
national authorities cooperated in identifying the assailant.  
In November, he was dismissed from the army, sentenced to 6 
months in prison with hard labor, and fined $220.

On November 26, soldiers in Conakry detained approximately 40 
civilians at Camp Almamy Samory.  The detainees, mainly 
Guineans and Lebanese, were beaten and held without charges for 
over 5 hours.  Soldiers allegedly raped some of the women in 
the group.

Prison conditions, including those in the women's prison, are 
inhumane and life-threatening.  The standards of sanitation and 
nutrition remain poor.  Deaths due to malnutrition and disease 
are frequent.  The Government does not permit local human 
rights organizations to visit prisons.  On the night of 
December 31, sixteen prisoners died in Conakry's Central 
Prison.  The State Prosecutor began an investigation.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Penal Code requires that detainees must be charged before a 
magistrate within 72 hours.  Once charged, the accused may be 
held until the final outcome of the case, including during the 
period of any appeals.  Release on bail is at the discretion of 
the magistrate who has jurisdiction in the case.  The 
Constitution proscribes incommunicado detention.  The law 
guarantees attorneys access to their clients, but authorities 
frequently do not respect this provision.

In practice, administrative controls over the police are 
ineffective, and security forces rarely follow the Penal Code; 
arbitrary arrest remained a persistent threat to Guineans.

On January 21 in Kankan, security forces stopped, beat, and 
imprisoned an opposition party delegation touring the region.  
Local police subsequently released the members of the 
delegation.  In June gendarmes detained two soldiers to answer 
questions concerning their alleged disloyalty and malfeasance.  
After 2 days, they were released.

At year's end, there were no known political or security 
detainees being held by the Government.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution affirms the judiciary's independence.  
Magistrates, however, are civil servants having no guarantee of 
tenure and are susceptible to influence by the executive 
branch.  Judicial authorities often defer to central 
authorities in politically sensitive cases.  In addition, the 
administration of justice is plagued by numerous other 
problems, including a shortage of magistrates (who generally 
are poorly trained) and lawyers (there are 48 in all), and an 
outdated and overly restrictive Penal Code.  Owing to 
corruption and nepotism in the judiciary, relatives of 
influential members of the Government are virtually above the 
law.

The Penal Code provides for the presumption of innocence of 
accused persons, the independence of judges, the equality of 
citizens before the law, the right of the accused to counsel, 
and the right to appeal a judicial decision.  Although in 
principle the Government is responsible for funding legal 
defense costs in serious criminal cases, in practice it rarely 
disburses these funds.  The attorney for the defense frequently 
receives no payment.

The judiciary includes courts of first instance, two Courts of 
Appeal and the Supreme Court, the court of final appeal.  There 
is also a State Security Court, but it has not met since the 
trial of those allegedly involved in the coup attempt of 1985.  
A military tribunal prepares and adjudicates charges against 
accused military personnel.  Since 1988, civilian courts have 
rendered all judgments regarding violations under the Penal 
Code.

A traditional system of justice exists at the village or urban 
neighborhood level.  Litigants present their civil cases before 
a village chief, a neighborhood chief, or a council of wise 
men.  The dividing line between the formal and informal justice 
systems is vague, and a case may be referred from the formal to 
the traditional system to ensure compliance by all parties with 
the judicial ruling.  Conversely, if a case cannot be resolved 
to the satisfaction of all parties in the traditional system, 
it may be referred to the formal system for adjudication.

Suspected criminals, notably thieves, are sometimes beaten to 
death by their victims, and by others with tacit approval of 
police authorities.

Guinea did not have any known political prisoners at year's end.

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

The Constitution provides for the inviolability of the home and 
judicial search warrants are required by law.  Police 
frequently ignore these procedures, however, or do not strictly 
follow them, and interference in citizens' lives continued, 
primarily through police harassment.  Police and paramilitary 
police often ignore legal procedures in the pursuit of 
criminals and frequently detain private citizens at night 
roadblocks in order to extort money to supplement their 
incomes.  It is widely believed that security officials monitor 
mail and telephone calls.

Local businesses, especially expatriate companies, often 
complain of intimidation and harassment by public officials and 
authorities.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Government has stated publicly that it supports free speech 
and a free press, and the Constitution provides for freedom of 
expression, subject to certain limitations.  But while 
proclaiming freedom of the press and communications, the Press 
Law gives the Government a sufficiently broad range of possible 
restrictive actions as to vitiate any real protection.  It also 
prohibits seditious talk or chants uttered in public, 
establishes defamation and slander as criminal offenses, and 
prohibits communications that offend the President, incite 
violence, discrimination, hatred, or disturb the public peace.

The Government owns and operates the electronic news media, 
with national and rural radio being the most important outlet 
in reaching the public.  It also publishes the official
newspaper, Horoya.  Reporters for the official press, who are 
government employees, practice self-censorship in order to  
protect their jobs.  The Ministry of Communications continues 
to act as overseer of state-owned media.

There is a vocal and active independent and opposition press, 
which is on occasion critical of the President and the 
Government.  The two weekly newspapers, Le Lynx and 
L'Independant, and up to two dozen other publications continue 
to publish despite technical and financial difficulties.  Some 
newspapers are linked to opposition parties while others offer 
news and criticism of both the Government and the opposition.

Political tracts circulate widely throughout Conakry and other 
regions, and include specific criticisms of the President and 
high officials.  Foreign publications, some of which include 
criticism of the Government, are usually available.

There were no known attempts to interfere with foreign radio 
broadcasts.  On March 9 the Government shut down the country's 
first and only independent radio station, Radio Gandal.  It had 
begun, without a license, to broadcast music on March 3.

The Ministry of Higher Education exercises control over 
academic freedom through its influence on the faculty hiring 
and control over curriculum.  In general, teachers are not 
subject to classroom censorship.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Freedom of association is protected by law, but there are legal 
restrictions on assembly.  The Penal Code bans any meeting that 
has an ethnic or racial character or any gathering "whose 
nature threatens national unity."  A September 1992 statute 
allows public gatherings only with 72-hour prior notification 
to the Government.  Following intercommunal riots in September 
1993, the Government banned all street marches except for 
funerals.

Pursuant to this statute, local administrative authorities may 
cancel a demonstration or meeting if they have grounds to 
believe that public order will be threatened.  They may hold 
event organizers criminally liable if violence or destruction 
of property ensues.  Organizers of political rallies in the 
opposition stronghold region of Upper Guinea have been arrested 
for violating this statute.

Political parties must provide information on their founding 
members and produce internal statutes and political platforms 
consistent with the Constitution before the Government 
recognizes them.  At year's end, there were 46 legally 
recognized political parties.

On September 8, local officials and security forces in Faranah 
attempted to detain Alpha Conde, Secretary General of the 
Malinke-based political party, the Rally of the Guinean People 
(RPG).  Government officials stated that local officials wanted 
only to talk to Alpha Conde and that they had made no attempt 
to detain him.  Conde intended to hold a political rally, but 
authorities prevented him from entering the city.  The Ministry 
of Interior subsequently canceled the remaining portion of 
Conde's tour of Upper Guinea, where his party had enjoyed its 
greatest electoral success.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution declares Guinea to be a secular state, and 
religious groups freely practice their faiths.  Foreign 
missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, operate freely.

The Government and the quasi-governmental National Islamic 
League have spoken out against the proliferation of Shi'ite 
fundamentalist sects "generating confusion and deviation" 
(within Guinean Islam) but have not restricted these groups.  
The Constitution provides religious communities the freedom to 
govern themselves without state interference.

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


The Constitution provides for the right of Guineans to travel 
freely within the country and to change their places of 
residence and work.  The Government requires all citizens to 
carry national identification cards which they must present on 
demand at security checkpoints.  Travelers in large cities face 
harassment by police and at military roadblocks, particularly 
late at night.  It is common for citizens to pay bribes to 
avoid police harassment.  The Government permits foreign 
travel, although it retains the ability to limit it for 
political reasons.  For example, in February airport security 
officers prevented Siradiou Diallo, Secretary General of the 
Party for Renewal and Progress, from boarding a plane to 
Senegal.  Several hours later, officials allowed him to depart.

In June the Government ordered the removal of checkpoints at 
prefectoral borders.  In November authorities instituted 
midnight to daybreak roadblocks throughout the city of Conakry 
in order to control increasing banditry.  Security agents were 
instructed to detain only those lacking proper documentation.  
However, some security agents, and in particular soldiers, 
harassed, detained, and beat those who did not pay bribes.

Guinea currently hosts approximately 633,200 Liberian and 
Sierra Leonean refugees.  The Government continues to work 
closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 
and many other international and nongovernmental organizations 
to provide food and shelter to those designated as refugees.  
While the Government has generally been hospitable toward 
refugees, there have been reports of local police officials and 
border patrol soldiers demanding bribes or sexual favors for 
entry into Guinea.  There were no reports of forced 
repatriation.

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

Although multiparty elections were held in 1993, the Government 
dominated the electoral process (even excluding opposition 
observers from the final vote count) thus calling into serious 
doubt the ability of the people effectively to exercise their 
constitutional right to change the government.

Following the installation of Lansana Conte as President on 
January 29, the Government took steps to inhibit opposition 
political activity.  The RPG coordinated a tax boycott in its 
stronghold, Upper Guinea.  This ended in May, owing to 
oppressive tactics of the Government, including detention 
without charge of RPG militants, arrests for organizing 
rallies, and disrupting RPG political rallies.

The President's party, the Party of Unity and Progress (PUP), 
remained the preeminent political organization.  PUP's strength 
rested on the fragmentation of the opposition.

While women are numerically underrepresented in the Government, 
they participated overwhelmingly in the presidential election.  
President Conte named four women to ministerial positions, 
including the Minister of Agriculture.

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

Local nongovernmental organizations primarily interested in 
human rights issues include:  the Guinean Organization for the 
Defense of Human Rights (OGDH); the Guinean Human Rights 
Association (AGDH); the Children of the Victims of Camp Boiro; 
the Association of Victims of Repression (AVR); and the 
Committee for the Defense of Civic Rights.  These groups, 
especially OGDH, AGDH and AVR, were vocal in calling attention 
to human rights abuses.

The government-controlled press denounces efforts by foreign 
governments or organizations to interfere in internal affairs, 
including the protection of human rights.

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

The Constitution states that all persons are equal before the 
law, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, language, beliefs, 
political opinions, philosophy, or creed.

     Women

Although the Constitution provides for equal treatment of men 
and women, women face discrimination, particularly in rural 
areas, where opportunities for women are limited by custom and 
the demands of child-rearing and arduous subsistence farming.  
Women are not denied access to land, credit or businesses.  The 
Government has affirmed the principle of equal pay for equal 
work, but in practice women receive less pay than men in most 
equally demanding jobs.  According to a 1991 United Nations 
Development Program report, females receive only 20 percent as 
much schooling as males.

Violence against women, including wife beating, is common, 
although social workers' estimates differ as to the extent of 
the problem.  Wife beating is a criminal offense and 
constitutes grounds for divorce under civil law; however, 
police rarely intervene in domestic disputes.  Although the 
Government has made regular statements in the media against 
sexual harassment, women working in the small formal sector in 
urban areas complain of frequent sexual harassment.  Refugees 
from Liberia and Sierra Leone reported some Guinean soldiers 
demanded sex in exchange for entry into Guinea.  Although not 
considered widespread, the social stigma attached to rape 
prevents most women from reporting it.  The Government has not 
vigorously pursued criminal investigations of alleged sexual 
crimes.

     Children

The Constitution provides that the Government has a particular 
obligation to protect and nurture the nation's youth, and it 
allocates a significant percentage of its budget to primary 
education.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), which international health 
experts have condemned as damaging to both physical and mental 
health, is performed at an early age and is practiced among 
Muslims and animists.  According to an independent expert, 
about 60 percent of females have undergone this procedure.

Grandmothers frequently insist on the circumcision of a 
granddaughter, even when the parents are opposed.  
Infibulation, the most dangerous form of FGM, is not 
practiced.  The Government has made efforts to educate health 
workers on the dangers of this procedure and supports the World 
Health Organization resolutions calling for its elimination.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

While the Constitution and the Penal Code prohibit racial or 
ethnic discrimination, ethnic identification is strong.  Mutual 
suspicion affects relations across ethnic lines, in and out of 
government.  The Cabinet includes representatives of all major 
ethnic groups, but a disproportionate number of senior military 
officers are Soussou, the ethnic group of President Conte.

     People with Disabilities

The Constitution provides that all persons are equal before the 
law.  There are no special constitutional provisions for the 
disabled.  The Government has not mandated accessibility for 
the disabled and few disabled people work.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for the right of employees to form 
labor unions and protects them from discrimination based on 
their union affiliations.  Only an estimated 5 percent of the 
work force is unionized.  Most union members are government 
employees, employees of the national utilities (electric, 
water, and telephone companies), or of foreign-controlled 
companies.

The Labor Code states that all workers (except military and 
paramilitary) have the right to create and participate in 
organizations that defend and develop their individual and 
collective rights as workers.  It requires elected worker 
representatives for any enterprise employing 25 or more 
salaried workers.

The National Confederation of Guinean Workers (CNTG) was the 
sole trade union before the Labor Code was enacted.  Even 
though there are now other trade union and labor 
confederations, the CNTG remains the largest confederation.

The CNTG is indirectly funded by the State, although dissident 
members seek to increase the Confederation's freedom from 
Government control.  Independent unions and confederations have 
gained popularity, such as the Free Union of Teachers and 
Researchers of Guinea and the National Organization for Free 
Trade Unions of Guinea.  Several disgruntled groups within the 
CNTG left the Confederation, citing corruption in the 
leadership.  These groups joined with some independent unions 
to form a new confederation, the United Syndicates of Guinean 
Workers.

The Labor Code grants salaried workers, including public sector 
civilian employees, the right to strike 10 days after their 
representative union makes known its intention to do so.  It 
prohibits strikes in sectors providing essential services 
(hospitals, radio and television, army, and police).  Workers, 
including Conakry bank employees, transport workers, and 
university teachers, particularly the Medical Faculty, again 
exercised their right to strike.

Unions may freely affiliate with international labor groups.  
The Government continued to designate CNTG to represent workers 
in the International Labor Organization Conference in 1994.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Under the Labor Code, representative workers' unions or union 
groups may organize the workplace and negotiate with employers 
or employer organizations.  The law protects the right to 
bargain collectively concerning wages and salaries without 
government interference.  Work rules and work hours established 
by the employer are to be developed in consultation with union 
delegates.  The Code also prohibits antiunion discrimination.  
Union delegates represent individual and collective claims and 
grievances with management.  Individual workers threatened with 
dismissal or other sanctions have the right to a hearing before 
management with a union representative present and, if 
necessary, to take the complaint to the Conakry Labor Court 
which convenes weekly to hear such cases.  In the interior, 
civil courts hear labor cases.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Labor Code specifically forbids forced or compulsory labor, 
and there is no evidence of its practice.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum age for employment according to the Labor Code is 
16 years.  Apprentices, however, may start at 14 years.  
Workers and apprentices under the age of 18 are not permitted 
to work at night nor for more than 12 consecutive hours, nor on 
Sundays.  The Labor Code also stipulates that the Minister of 
Labor and Social Affairs maintain a list of occupations in 
which women and youth under 18 cannot be employed.  In 
practice, enforcement by Ministry inspectors is limited to 
large firms in the modern sector of the economy.  Children of 
all ages work on family farms, in small trades, and in the 
informal sector, such as in street vending.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Labor Code provides for the establishment by decree of a 
guaranteed minimum hourly wage, but the Government has not yet 
done so.  There are also provisions in the Code for overtime 
and night wages, which are fixed percentages of the regular 
wage.  According to the Labor Code, regular work is not to 
exceed 10-hour days or 48-hour weeks, with a 40-hour workweek 
being the norm, and there is to be a period of at least 24 
consecutive hours of rest each week, usually Sunday.  Every 
salaried worker has the legal right to an annual paid vacation, 
accumulated at the rate of at least 2.5 workdays per month of 
work.  In practice, authorities enforce these rules only in the 
relatively small modern urban sector.

The Labor Code contains provisions of a general nature 
respecting occupational safety and health, but the Government 
has at year's end not yet elaborated a set of practicable 
workplace health and safety standards.  Neither had it issued 
any of the ministerial orders laying out the specific 
requirements for certain occupations and for certain methods of 
work that are called for in the Labor Code.  The Ministry of 
Labor and Social Affairs is responsible for enforcing labor 
standards, and its inspectors are empowered to suspend work 
immediately in situations hazardous to health.  Enforcement, 
however, remained more of a goal than a reality.  Labor 
inspectors acknowledge that they cannot even cover Conakry, 
much less the entire country, with their small staff and meager 
budget.


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[end of document]

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