Camp Boiro Memorial

Amnesty International
Annual Report - 1979
Guinea (the Revolutionary People's Republic of)

Several hundred political prisoners are known to have been released during the year. However, there are still many political prisoners, including some who have been held since early l971 for alleged complicity in the Portuguese attack on Conakry in November 1970. No precise estimate of their numbers can be given because the government has refused to provide information about political prisoners and because many are feared to have died in custody.
The release of political prisoners, which began in December 1977 when some 50 prisoners were freed, was repeated in May and November 1978, and was one sign of the changes in policy since the beginning of 1978. Apart from President Ahmed Sekou Toure's public reconciliation with a number of countries with which Guinea was previously on bad terms, which came to a climax in December 1978 with a visit to Guinea by the French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, important changes were also made to the country's government and constitution at the 11th Congress of the ruling Parti Démocratique de Guinée (PDG) in November 1978. The Political Bureau, which before November 1978 consisted of President Sekou Toure and five others 1, one of whom was his brother and three of whom were related to him by marriage, was increased to 15. The PDG's central committee, the National Revolutionary Council, which previously had 25 members 2, was increased to 70. The members are to be elected in May or June 1979.
In June 1978, Amnesty International published a Briefing Paper on Guinea, which described political imprisonment and other violations of human rights.
In the same month, it launched a major campaign to obtain an amnesty for convicted political prisoners and the release of all long-term detainees. Diallo Telli, former Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), was not among those freed. In November 1978, President Sekou Toure told journalists that Diallo Telli had been sentenced and was therefore no longer under the President's authority. He added that all those who had been sentenced to death were dead. According to Amnesty International's information, although Diallo Telli was detained in 1976 and accused of plotting to assassinate President Sekou Toure, he was never tried. His alleged confession was broadcast over Conakry Radio shortly after his arrest, but until November 1978 the authorities had persistently refused to say what action had been taken against him. It is still not clear whether he was executed or was starved to death in prison. Other prisoners arrested at the same time may also be dead. Only one of these, Souleymane Sy Savane, is known to have been released during the year.
The government's sensitivity to international criticism on matters of human rights was shown in November 1978 when President Sekou Toure publicly called Amnesty International "trash,, (une ordure). He claimed that its criticisms were political rather than motivated by an objective concern for human rights. The President has so far failed to respond to the detailed and specific criticisms made in the Briefing Paper on Guinea or to answer inquiries about political prisoners.

1. This information is inaccurate. While the Bureau Politique membership drew heavily on kinship and ethnic patterns, numerically it always consisted of at least 10 to 12 members. It is true, however, that a five-member (approximately) shadow cabinet, composed of the President's relatives and in-laws ruled the country.
2. The Central Committee also had originally 35 members. It was expanded to 70 members in 1978. [T.S. Bah]