Guinea paralegals detained and intimidated

Human Rights Watch called on the Guinean government to investigate the role of two high-level officials in the apparent illegal detention and intimidation of members of a prominent Guinean human rights group.

Five staff members of Les Mêmes Droits Pour Tous (MDT), including its president, Frédéric Foromo Loua were detained on 3 November 2011, and subjected to hours of interrogation by police, apparently under the orders of the Conakry governor, Sékou Resco Camara, and a high-level police colonel, Amadou Camara. Human Rights Watch said witnesses heard the governor order the police to shoot the activists if they moved.

The members of MDT were detained as they tried to accompany two released prisoners out of Conakry’s main prison. Both the attorney-general in Conakry and the national director of prisons had ordered the men's release.

The police have since returned the two released prisoners to detention, where they remain. Facely Fofana, one of the two men returned to prison, had been held since 2005 for his alleged involvement in armed robbery and murder and was released because his file had been lost. Mamadou Bilo Barry, the other man returned to prison, had been charged with armed robbery and held without trial since 2001. Barry had been ordered released because he is gravely ill.

The MDT staff members were detained within the headquarters of the Police Special Interventions Unit (Compagnie Spéciale d’Intervention de la Police,CSIP), which is under the command of Colonel Camara.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Colonel Camara objected to freeing the prisoners “because releasing them would encourage crime.” Shortly thereafter, Governor Camara, who is not related to the colonel, arrived at the headquarters and ordered the arrest of the five MDT staff for “supporting delinquents.” The governor then ordered about 20 policemen, some of whom were armed, to accompany the MDT staff to their offices and to have them produce their work authorization.

A witness told Human Rights Watch that before leaving the CSIP, he heard Governor Camara order the policemen to shoot any MDT staff trying to flee from the office. Camara was also heard to say that, "I’ve heard people talking about this NGO and it’s time that we’re finished with them."

"The justice minister should intervene and ensure that human rights organizations are able to operate freely, as guaranteed by both Guinean and international law," said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "They should not be subjected to threats and arbitrary arrests by local government officials and security forces."

The original Human Rights Watch press report on which this item is based can be read here.


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