Camp Boiro Memorial

Amnesty International
1988 Report on Human Rights

The government revealed that secret trials had taken place and confirmed the death in custody of several prisoners who "disappeared" in 1985. Prisoners arrested in 1984 and 1985, many of whom had been subjected to unfair secret trials in 1986, were held incommunicado. Some of them were released at the end of the year, while others remained in prison under sentence of death throughout 1987. The government further revealed that some of those whose cases had been brought to trial had, in fact, died more than a year before the trials began.

On 5 May the government announced the outcome of a series of secret trials held before the State Security Court and the military Tribunal, two special courts in 1985. It reported that 341 ,people had been tried and 201 of them convicted. Those tried included both former government officials and relatives of former President Sekou Toure arrested in 984, as well as people arrested after a coup attempt in July 1985. The identities of the 72 civilians convicted by the State Security Court were disclosed, but the government withheld the names of 129 military and police personnel convicted by the Military Tribunal, divulging only their ranks. No details were given about the charges against those tried.

The government announced that 58 of hose convicted had been sentenced to death. Twenty-one of them were sentenced in absentia and 37 were apparently in custody at the time of the trials. Seventeen of the 37 were civilians and the other 20 were military or police personnel. Forty-six people were sentenced to life imprisonment, another 54 to 20 or 15 years' imprisonment, 34 to prison terms between eight and three years and nine to 8 months' imprisonment. Official sources reported that the nine sentenced to 28-month terms, including two sisters of Sekou Toure and five former members of his government, had been released. The 140 people who had been acquitted were also released.

At the end of December, the government announced that 67 other political prisoners were then being released. These prisoners included Sekou Toure's widow, Andrée Touré, and their son. Mohamed Touré, both of whom had been sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. All those released had been convicted by either the State Security Court or the Military Tribunal and were ordered to remain in their préfectures (regions) of origin following their release.

Many aspects of the trials announced in May 1987 contravened international norms. Two representatives of Amnesty international visited Conakry in June to seek further information about the trials. They obtained information about the State Security Court trials but could learn virtually nothing new about the military trials. They met the Minister of Justice, the President of the State Security Court and others involved in the State Security Court trials. The representatives established that trials before the State Security Court had taken place in secret between July and September 1986. None of the defendants were informed that the trials were occurring and they were represented by three legal counsel who at no time contacted their clients. Much of the evidence presented to the court apparently consisted of self-incriminating statements which detainees had made in custody. The court did not attempt to establish the circumstances in which the statements were made, although many of them seem to have been made as a result of torture and other forms of duress.

Amnesty International's delegates were not allowed access to basic trial documents such as the formal charges, the indictment produced on the basis of pretrial inquiries, statements made by the accused while in custody and the judgment. They were assured by officials that the proceedings had been "normal" but were given no detailed information to support this claim. By June 1987 none of those convicted had apparently received visits from relatives or others since their arrest in 1984 or 1985. Amnesty International's delegates left Conakry without having been able to learn on what charges any defendants had been convicted and with no further information about the identity of the 129 military and police personnel convicted, including the 20 who had been sentenced to death.

Amnesty International also expressed concern about the fate of some 20 political prisoners alleged to have been summarily and secretly executed in July 1985 (see Amnesty International Report 1986). The head of state, General Lansana Conte, confirmed that at least two prisoners in this group had died in 1985. The cases of all prisoners in the group, however, were among those secretly brought to trial in 1986 which concluded with sentences of death. The organization's delegates were able to confirm no information about these prisoners in June but in December the head of state reportedly said that at least two of the prisoners had died in July 1985. Siaka Touré, a nephew of Sekou Toure and former director of the Boiro detention camp, had been arrested in April 1984 and was one of the dead identified by General Conte. Diarra Traore, the alleged leader of the July 1985 coup attempt, was the other prisoner named. The general said that Diarra Traore and a number of others arrested in July 1985 had gone on hunger strike and virtually committed suicide soon after their arrest.

No previous announcement had been made about the fate of the two men, both of whom were officers in the armed forces, but it was widely believed that they were among the 20 unidentified people sentenced to death by the Military Tribunal. General Conte reportedly told journalists that others sentenced to death were still alive. However, by the end of the year none of the others sentenced to death in 1986 had been seen by relatives or other people. Amnesty International also expressed concern about a number of other civilian prisoners arrested after the July 1985 coup attempt and not among those tried secretly In 1986 or released in 1987. A significant number of these detainees effectively "disappeared" after their arrest; their detention was not acknowledged by the government and no information was made available to relatives about what had happened to them. It was not clear if they were still in secret detention at the end of 1987 or had lied or been killed while in custody.

In August Amnesty International appealed to General Conte to commute their death sentences announced in May and to disclose publicly the identities of the people convicted by the Military Tribunal. It also urged him to ensure that the families of all those sentenced to death were officially informed of executions or, if the sentences had not been carried out, that relatives be told where the prisoners were held and allowed to visit them.

In December Amnesty International submitted an 18-page memorandum to the government, describing its concerns about the secret trials and proposing a series of measures to uphold human rights The organization recommended that those convicted at unfair trials be tried again or released. The organization also emphasized the importance of ensuring that detainees were not coerced into incriminating themselves, as it appeared that many of the statements accepted as evidence by the State Security Court had been made under torture and other forms of duress.

Several developments in 1987 were unrelated to the arrests of 1984 and 1985 and the secret trials of 1986. Amnesty International learned the identity of several people imprisoned for criticizing government policies, including Moussa Fofana. He was arrested in late 1986, apparently on account of a letter he wrote to the President calling for policy changes. He was reportedly released in early 1987 but then rearrested. It was unclear if he remained in detention at the end of 1987. In May the authors of leaflets criticizing the government, as well as those found distributing the documents, were threatened with arrest. However. it was not known if any arrests took place.