Monday 6.8.2018 in Latest Developments in Guinea Country Page
Minister of Justice Orders Detention of Journalist https://t.co/Wtp5Miazcc— Media Foundation for West Africa (@TheMFWA) 2 juli 2018
On 19th June 2018, the National Directorate of the Judicial Police arrested Mamadou Saliou Diallo, journalist and founder of online news site Nouvellesdeguinee.com, following a complaint of Minister of Justice Cheick Sako accusing the journalist of defamation and slander in an article Diallo wrote and published. The article accused the Minister of irregularities in awarding the contract to construct a new prison in exchange for millions of euros and an apartment in Spain. The detention of the journalist occurred despite the decriminalisation of press offenses in the 2010 Press Law. In a statement Arnaud Froger of Reporters without Borders (RSF) commented:
"In Guinea, defamation is not punishable by a prison sentence. The detention of this journalist is therefore a flagrant violation of the press law of 2010. How can a Minister of Justice accept to be behind the illegal detention of a reporter? Mamadou Saliou Diallo must be released immediately, without waiting for the merits of the case to be judged."(Translated from French)
Diallo was only released two weeks later, on 5th July, under severe judicial control, including the seizure of his travel documents and the mandatory reporting to the court's clerk three times a week until further notice, according to Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).
On 23rd July 2018, security forces used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protests against a 25% increase of the fuel price in Conakry. The evening before the planned protest, authorities revoked the authorisation of the protest, organised by the new civil society coalition Forces sociales de Guinée. Police arrested about ten people, including comedian Mamadou Thugwho, who were released on bail later that day after appearing before the public prosecutor.
Dr. Dansa Kourouma, president of the Conseil national des organisations de la société civile (CNOSC; National Council of Civil Society Organisations), condemned the repressive and brutal tactics that security forces used to prevent the peaceful march in the capital Conakry:
"The police came to prevent us from undertaking our planned protest walk, yet we respected the rules allowing us to protest. They [authorities] cannot wait until the eve of our protest to tell us that we will not protest. This is a violation of the Guinean Constitution. If they continue to prevent us from protesting nonviolently as they did today, we are legal practitioners, we are able to use other strategies." (translated from French)
Previously, on 10th July, thousands protesters already descended to the streets in Conakry to march against the hike in the fuel price, without any reported incidents, on the initiative of the Forces sociales. This followed a three-day strike and 'ville morte' protest action from 4th July in the capital Conakry and in several other cities in the country, on the initiative of trade unions and civil society. According to RFI, several instances of violence were reported in Conakry and other cities in the country.
On the night of 6th to 7th May 2018, deputy secretary general of the trade union Union générale des travailleurs de Guinée (UGTG; General Union of Workers if Guinea) Aboubacar Sidiki Mara was arrested while on a mission to investigate the working conditions in the mining town of Boké. The Court of First Instance of Dixinn sentenced Mara on 28th June 2018 to a prison sentence of 6 months, of which 4 months suspended, for 'provoking unlawful assembly'. He had been initially charged for 'unlawful demonstration and unarmed assembly in mining or port extensions'.
In early June, president of the Independent National Institute of Human Rights (INIDH) Dr Alia Diaby called for the immediate release of Aboubacar Sidiki Mara during INIDH's Plenary Assembly, besides highlighting human rights violations in Guinea in 2017-2018:
"The year 2018 has been marked by the continuation of the demonstrations of 2017, by the strike of the teachers of the pre-university and numerous protests resulting in the violation of the freedom of assembly, association, the right to assembly and procession, the right to life, the trade union freedom...(translated from French)"
On trade unionist Aboubacar Sidiki Mara's particular case, he further stated that:
"in this case, INIDH recalls that in Guinea, freedom is the rule and demands the provisional release of the person concerned pending the ruling of a competent court, respecting the conditions of a fair trial, on his guilt." (translated from French)