Camp Boiro Memorial

Amnesty International
Annual Report - 1983

Amnesty International's main concerns were the continuing refusal of the authorities to provide information about the fate of some 2,900 "disappeared" prisoners, the detention without trial of suspected political opponents of the government and poor prison conditions. In February 1982 Guinea ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.
The authorities continued throughout 1982 to withhold information on the fate of some 2,900 political detainees who had "disappeared" in prison after being arrested between 1969 and 1976. According to Amnesty International's information, the last of an estimated 4,000 detainees arrested following the real or alleged plots of 1969, 1970 and 1976 were released in late 1980, and grave fears existed for some 2,900 detainees who were reported to have "disappeared" in prison. Many were believed to have died as a result of malnutrition and disease, but large numbers were probably killed, often by means of the "black diet" - total deprivation of food and water until death. In December 1981, at the time of an Amnesty International mission to Guinea, the authorities agreed to provide information on the fate of 78 named individuals, known not to have been sentenced to death and not reported to have been released. All had been arrested between 1969 and 1976 for alleged "counter-revolutionary" activities. Unofficial reports to Amnesty International had suggested that these detainees had been secretly and extrajudicially executed in prison. Among the 78 prisoners listed were former government ministers, civil servants, army officers, teachers, lawyers and medical personnel. They included Conde Ousmane, an army major, Toure Kerfalla, an administrative clerk, and Diallo Telli, a former Ambassador, Minister and first Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
In January 1982 the authorities first made public details of the fate of certain named "disappeared" prisoners. In response to appeals from a Member of the European Parliament, it was announced that seven Guineans married to European women and arrested after the Portuguese-led invasion of Conakry of November 1970 had been executed on 25 January 1971. According to the authorities, another prisoner had escaped by that date and had not been caught. Amnesty International informed the authorities that it found these disclosures unsatisfactory. Amnesty Intemational's information indicated that of the seven prisoners allegedly executed in January 1971, three were not in fact arrested until mid-1971. Official documents dating from 1971 indicate that only three of the seven were sentenced to death. According to unofficial sources, the eighth prisoner was arrested and extrajudicially executed in 1972.
In early October 1982 Amnesty International made public the list of 78 "disappeared" prisoners which it had earlier submitted to the government and appealed publicly to the authorities to account for all 2,900 "disappeared" prisoners, including those named on the list. The following day a broadcast on Guinea's state-operated radio attacked the objectivity and motivation of Amnesty International. The broadcast did not, however, deny the substance of Amnesty International's public statement or provide any information on the fate of the "disappeared" prisoners. In renewed appeals Amnesty International called on the authorities to rescind their stated policy of secrecy on political detention, and again urged them to supply information on the fate of the 78 "disappeared" prisoners. No replies had been received by the end of 1982.
Two prisoners of conscience - Camara Senni, nicknamed "La Presse", and Senkoumba Diaby, nicknamed "Garagiste" - were released in May 1982, as were two others also detained without trial since August 1977 whose cases were being investigated by Amnesty International. They had been arrested after demonstrations by market women against state restrictions on private trading. Amnesty International also learned of the release in early 1982 of four detainees, including two whose cases were being investigated, who had been held without trial since August 1979, when the authorities claimed to have discovered a plot to destroy public buildings with explosives. At the end of the year, Amnesty International was still investigating the case of Bah Mahmoud, also arrested in August 1979 but not believed to have been released. At least 10 other people arrested at the same time were believed to have died in Camp Boiro, the main centre of political detention in the capital, Conakry, after being subjected to the "black diet" (total deprivation of food and water). Amnesty International's investigations also continued throughout 1982 regarding individuals detained following a grenade explosion at the Palais du peuple (People's Palace) in May 1980 and attempted sabotage at Conakry airport in February 1981. Some 200 people were initially arrested; most were reportedly released after interrogation, but Amnesty International maintained its inquiries into the cases of eight detainees. Of these, only Barry Mouctar, a Guinean exile repatriated forcibly and extrajudicially from the Ivory Coast in April 1981, was still believed to be detained at the end of 1982. Amnesty International also inquired about Cheik Mohamed Kone and at least two other Guineans forcibly and extrajudicially repatriated in November 1981 from Liberia, where they had reportedly been linked to a political group which had called in 1981 for an end to the one-party system in Guinea. They were believed to be detained without trial in Camp Boiro.
At the time of the Amnesty International mission to Guinea in December 1981, the authorities agreed to provide detailed information on the judicial status of 22 detainees on whose behalf the organization was working. By the end of 1982, however, no information had been provided by the authorities. At a news conference in France on 20 September 1982, President Sekou Toure reportedly stated that there were no prisoners of conscience held in Guinea and that his government was prepared to receive an "international tribunal" in Guinea to investigate alleged human rights violations in his country. There were no further reports regarding such an investigation by the end of the year.
According to reports received by Amnesty International, officials of the administration and of the Parti Démocratique de Guinée (PDG), Guinean Democratic Party, the country's sole political party' continued to make widespread use of detention to suppress opposition to the government or the PDG. Such cases of political detention, often for several years, appeared to be imposed for minor offences, such as criticizing the PDG or failing to carry out a PDG directive, and were not subject to any form of judicial intervention or remedy for the detainee. Given the apparently widespread use, both in the urban and the rural areas, of detention for political ends and the official policy of secrecy with regard to political detention, it was not possible for Amnesty International to assess the numbers of such detainees.
Amnesty International was concerned about reports that conditions in several prisons, particularly Camp Boiro in Conakry and Camp Keme Boureima in Kindia, were unacceptably harsh. Standards of sanitation, nutrition and medical care reportedly remained poor. Detainees appeared to be held in small, poorly lit and poorly ventilated cells, and to be deprived of exercise. In an interview broadcast on French television on 14 September 1982, President President Toure stated that the International Committee of the Red Cross was free to inspect Guinea's prisons at a time of its choosing. However, no such visit was known to have taken place by the end of 1982.