GUINEA PRESENTS REPORT TO COMMITTEE ON ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION


AFTERNOON


HR/CERD/99/64
24 August 1999




Committee Adopts Concluding Observations on Situations in Central African Republic, Mozambique, Antigua and Barbuda

Guinea this afternoon presented a report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, with a Government delegation saying the country had accomplished valuable work in establishing a veritable state of law and that republican institutions were already in place and functioning harmoniously.

Introducing the report of his country, Francois Lonseny Fall, Ambassador and Director of Legal and Consular Affairs of Guinea, said his country's hospitality in hosting refugees had been recognized and appreciated by the international community. He said that by receiving over 1 million refugees who were victims of conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, Guinea had become the first State in the world to host a refugee population equal to its own population.

The Guinean delegation also included Sekou Camara, Charge d'Affaires at the Permanent Mission of Guinea to the United Nations Office and other international organizations at Geneva; and Aminata Kourouma, Attache at the Mission.

Committee Expert Mario Jorge Yutsis, who served as country rapporteur for the report of Guinea, said that a delay in the presentation of the report could be understood in terms of the economic, political and historical situation that had prevailed in the country. He thanked the Government of Guinea for its efforts in hosting refugees from neighbouring States.

Also taking part in the discussion were Committee Experts Luis Valencia Rodriguez, Regis de Gouttes and Ion Diaconu.

The Committee will publish its formal observations on the report of Guinea before the end of its four-week session, which concludes Friday. As one of 155 States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Elimination, Guinea must submit periodic reports to the Committee on Government efforts to implement the treaty.

Also this afternoon, the Committee adopted concluding observations on situations in the Central African Republic, Mozambique and Antigua and Barbuda, regretting that in all these cases no written reports had been submitted by the Governments, and that the Governments concerned had not responded to invitations to participate in the relevant meetings or furnish relevant information.

When the Committee reconvenes at 10 p.m. Wednesday, 25 August, it will continue its consideration of the report of Guinea.

Report of Guinea

The eleventh periodic report of Guinea (document CERD/C/334/Add.1) says that the country has made considerable progress in observing, safeguarding and promoting human rights. The State observes the principal religious holidays of Christianity and Islam alike, and radio and television devote air time to religious programming of all faiths, the report notes.

The report says that a few years ago, Guinea was a major "exporter" of refugees. Since the establishment of a State based on the rule of law, the separation of the three branches of Government and the institution of real judicial independence, a relationship of peace and trust has been forged between the State and its citizens.

The document says that in criminal law as in politics, discrimination on grounds of race, sex, language or social status does not exist in Guinea. Co-existence in the same territory, and intermingling as a result of marriage and other social activities form a counterweight to all forms of discrimination. The State watches over the maintenance and strengthening of national unity through various measures and forms of regulation and continually strengthens a genuine culture of human rights in the country, adds the report.

Introduction of Report

FRANCOIS LONSENY FALL, Ambassador and Director of Legal and Consular Affairs of Guinea, and Head of the delegation, said that today his country had accomplished valuable work, work to be cherished, in establishing a veritable state of law. All republican institutions were already in place and functioned harmoniously.

Mr. Lonseny Fall said that transparent and regular elections were held at the end of each term and the Government was endeavouring to eradicate racial discrimination. The Constitution had made national unity the basis of the State. In addition, the Constitution declared the equality and solidarity of all nationals without distinction on grounds sex, origin, religion or opinion. It also opposed any regime based on dictatorship, corruption, nepotism or regionalism.

Moreover, the Constitution of Guinea had expressed its willingness to realize, within the process of national unity and reconciliation, a State of law and respect for established democratic standards, Mr. Lonseny Fall said. Guinean law punished anyone for acts of racial, ethnic or religious discrimination or for acts of regional propaganda which might hurt national unity or the territorial integrity of the country.

Mr. Lonseny Fall said his country's hospitality in hosting refugees had been unanimously recognized and appreciated by the international community. By receiving over 1 million refugees who were victims of conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, Guinea was the first State in the world to a host refugee population equal in size to its own population, he said.

The Government of Guinea, conscious of the immense task it was undertaking in carrying out profound structural reforms to improve the economic situation in the country, was concerned about the living conditions of its citizens and the defence of their rights, Mr. Lonseny Fall said.

Discussion

MARIO JORGE YUTSIS, the Committee Expert who served as country rapporteur for the report of Guinea, said the country’s delay in the presentation of the report could be understood given the economic, political and historical circumstances that had prevailed in the country.

Mr. Yutsis noted that Guinea had taken in a number of refugees from war-torn regions of Liberia and Sierra Leone and had hosted them to such an extent that they had destabilized the country's economic and political situation. He said the Government of Guinea should be thanked for the gesture it had made in providing sanctuary to so many.

Turning to the report, Mr. Yutsis said that article 111 of the Guinean Criminal Code prescribed that a custodial sentence of between a year and 10 years for "any racist or regionalist act, including any racial, tribal or subversive propaganda". He asked to what extent regional acts or racial propaganda could undermine the unity of country.

He said the Malinke ethnic group comprised 30 per cent of the population of Guinea; however, the Susu ethnic people were estimated to be predominant in Government offices and other important posts. Further information was requested on the situation.

Mr. Yutsis recalled that the Committee on the Rights of the Child had underlined the existence of trafficking in children in the country and had recommended that the Government take appropriate measures to eliminate such activities.

Referring to article 5 of the Convention, on political rights, Mr. Yutsis asked the delegation why the law on political parties required that individuals wishing to found a political party should be natives of the four national regions of Guinea. Why did the State prevent the formation of regionally or ethnically based parties?

Mr. Yutsis asked the delegation for additional information on the affirmation that "everyone has the right to work and the State creates the necessary conditions for the exercise of this right". What were the necessary conditions?

Guinea was seen as having potential for mineral resources which had attracted the interests of international companies, Mr. Yutsis went on to say. He queried the delegation on how the Government would reconcile the interests of multinational corporations who carried out mineral exploration with the interests of ethnic groups on whose the land those corporations operated.

Quoting the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Mr. Yutsis said the majority of Guinean population lived below the poverty line and that many of lived in situations amounting to human degradation.

Other Committee Experts also commented the report of Guinea, saying, among other things, that Guinea, as it had 8 million inhabitants of multi-ethnic origin, was of particular interest to the Committee. Some Experts wanted to know about convictions which contradicted the prohibition of candidates from identifying themselves with any race or ethnic groups in national elections. Experts also asked if the Government had taken measures to educate law-enforcement personnel on human-rights standards and if additional steps were being taken to make the Convention known to the population. It was also asked if a Government body existed to promote human rights in Guinea.

FRANCOIS LONSENY FALL (Guinea), responding to some of the questions raised by Committee Experts, said that demographic censuses were made on all Guineans, but not on the basis of ethnic groups, which explained the absence of statistical data on the breakdown of ethnic groups.

Concerning the question of dominance by the Susu ethnic group, Mr. Lonseny Fall said that, although the country's President was from Susu, it was not true for other State posts, which were held by different ethnic groups, including the Malinke, Guerze and others. Ethnic representation in Government functions had been well balanced, including in the judiciary and legislative bodies, where every ethnic group was represented according to the ability of the individual, he said.

Mr. Fall said the law on political parties was intended to prevent the domination of the political scene by one or a few ethnic groups. Also, to avoid individual dominance, only political parties might field candidates at national elections, and candidates should be fielded nationwide and should refrain from identifying themselves with any race.

Concluding observations on situation in Central African Republic

The Committee noted with regret that no report had been submitted to it from the Central African Republic since 1986. It also regretted that the Central African Republic had not responded to its invitation to participate in the meeting and to furnish relevant information. The Committee decided that a communication should be sent to the Government setting out its reporting obligations under the Convention and urging that the dialogue with the Committee be resumed as soon as possible. The Committee suggested that the Government avail itself of technical assistance offered through the advisory-services and technical-assistance programme of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the aim of drawing up and submitting as soon as possible a report drafted in accordance with Committee guidelines.

Concluding observations on situation in Mozambique

The Committee noted with regret that no report had been submitted by Mozambique since 1984. It further regretted that Mozambique had not
responded to its invitation to participate in the meeting and to furnish relevant information. The Committee decided that a communication should be sent to the Government of the Mozambique setting out its reporting obligations under the Convention and urging that dialogue with the Committee be resumed as soon as possible. The Committee suggested that the Government avail itself of the technical assistance offered under the advisory-services and technical-assistance programme of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the aim of drawing up and submitting as soon as possible a report drafted in accordance with Committee guidelines.

Concluding observations on situation in Antigua and Barbuda

The Committee noted with regret that no report had been submitted to it since the State party's ratification of the Convention in 1988. It also regretted that Antigua and Barbuda had not responded to its invitation to participate in the meeting and to furnish relevant information. The Committee decided that a communication should be sent to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda setting out its reporting obligations under the Convention and urging that dialogue with the Committee be resumed as soon as possible. The Committee suggested that the Government avail itself of the technical assistance offered under the advisory-services and technical-assistance programme of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the aim of drawing up and submitting as soon as possible a report drafted in accordance with Committee guidelines.