Violence and state of emergency in Guinea

Press Briefing Notes

Spokesperson: Rupert Colville
Briefing Location: Geneva
Date: 19 November 2010

OHCHR is deeply concerned by the manner in which Guinea’s security forces, while reacting to a series of demonstrations linked to last weekend’s presidential election, have used excessive force and resorted to live fire, with four confirmed killings and over 300 others reported injured. Members of the security forces have also been injured, including one who lost an eye.

Violence was widespread in the capital Conakry from 15 to 17 November, in the wake of the announcement of the provisional election results by the Electoral commission. Agents of the Force Spéciale de Securisation du Processus Electoral (FOSSEPEL), and red beret troops have fired on crowds with live ammunition in several parts of Conakry, including in the Hamdallaye, Cosa, Bambeto and Koloma neighbourhoods. OHCHR Human Rights Officers witnessed heavily armed red beret soldiers and FOSSEPEL police and gendarmes brutally beating, arresting and shooting at unarmed civilians in various locations. The FOSSEPEL agents disregarded the presence of OHCHR staff and international journalists at the scene. Several houses and business were burned down. A local hospital treated over 140 civilians, mostly for bullet wounds.

OHCHR staff in Guinea have documented numerous allegations of human rights violations and continue to carry out investigations. Incidents documented thus far include the following:

· On 15 November, in the Koloma neighbourhood, neighbours stated they witnessed a 32-year-old man being shot dead by a FOSSEPEL gendarme as he was left his house. The neighbours said that the gendarme clearly specifically targeted him, lying on the ground to get a better shot.

· On 16 November, a 29-year-old man was shot dead in the Cosa neighbourhood. The victim had reportedly left his home to buy water at a nearby street stall when a FOSSEPEL agent got out of a pick-up truck and shot him. Eyewitnesses stated that the officer deliberately targeted the victim, who was hit in the neck at close range and died instantly.

· On 17 November, a 16-year-old boy in the Bantunka I neighbourhood was shot dead by a red beret soldier. The soldier, allegedly an ethnic Malinké who lives in the same neighbourhood as the victim, opened fire from close range at a group of ethnic Peuhls. The boy was shot from behind, the bullet entering the back of his neck and exiting through the front.

· Also on 17 November, in the Hamdallaye Pharmacie neighbourhood, police officers -- reportedly shouting “we will kill everybody” -- climbed out of a pick-up, seized an 18 year-old man and beat him with their rifle butts. One of them then shot the victim in the back of the neck, execution style, in front of many witnesses. The police officers then threatened the witnesses with their rifles before speeding away in their truck.

OHCHR Human Rights Officers helped the bereaved families transport the bodies of the latter three victims to the morgue.

· On 15 November, FOSSEPEL gendarmes looted houses belonging to ethnic Peuhl families in the Hamdallaye, Cosa and Bambeto neighbourhoods, and reportedly shot four young men aged between 18 and 30 from close range inside their own houses. The victims sustained serious bullet injuries to their faces, legs and feet.

· Also on 15 November, red beret troops drew up in a truck on the Route du Prince in Hamdallaye and an officer shot two boys aged 17 and 18, wounding them in the legs and pelvis.

· On 16 November, in the neighbourhood of Taouyah, a 15-month-old baby was hit in the face by a stray bullet while asleep in her bedroom.

Ethnically motivated violence
OHCHR Human Rights Officers have received several reports that ethnically–motivated violence between Peuhl and Malinké youths was taking place in several neighborhoods, including Hafia Minière. According to victims interviewed by OHCHR, red beret troops have been collaborating with groups of ethnic Malinké youth to target property and homes owned by members of the Peuhl ethnic group.

· On 16 November, two ethnic Malinké men aged 24 and 26 were stabbed by ethnic Peuhl youths in the Petit-Simbaya neighbourhood. Groups of youths armed with knives, stones and wooden bats intercepted the victims and asked if they spoke peuhlar. Once identified as Malinké, they were stabbed in the arms, chest and back.

·On the same day, widespread ethnic violence took place in the Kakimbo neighbourhood, where residents threw stones at five Peuhl-owned homes. They also shot two men aged 21 and 34 in the leg and foot and beat them with wooden bats. FOSSEPEL agents arrived at the scene and reportedly assisted the attackers to loot two homes belonging to Peuhl families.

· On 17 November, ethnic Peuhl youths armed with machetes and knives assaulted two ethnic Malinké men aged 20 and 24 on the Route du prince. The victims were stabbed in the arms, back and legs. Guinean soldiers belonging to the same ethnic group protected the victims until the Red Cross, called by human rights officers, came to collect them.

OHCHR urges the authorities and security forces, political leaders and their activists to refrain from violence and from inciting ethnic hatred. OHCHR calls on the transitional Government, which proclaimed a state of emergency, to scrupulously adhere to international norms regarding states of emergency including the respect of non-derogable rights and obligations. OHCHR also calls on the Government to ensure that members of the security forces adhere to international standards governing the use of force and firearms.