Camp Boiro Memorial

Amnesty International
1989 Human Rights Situation Report

There were a number of political arrests. Those detained were held incommunicado without charge or trial and reportedly subjected to frequent beatings. The government released 30 prisoners sentenced after secret and unfair trials in 1988 for participation in an unsuccessful coup attempt but failed to account for more than 80 others. In October the government announced its intention to set up a commission to draft a new constitution.

In January 50 students were arrested by police after two simultaneous demonstrations in Conakry by students and others complaining about price rises and living conditions. During the protests one person was reportedly killed. Those arrested were released after a few days but nine students were redetained shortly afterwards and held without charge until 15 February, when they were released. The cases of the nine, who included Moustapha Diallo and Mamadou Marena, were not referred to the Procuracy for further investigation and possible prosecution and those detained appeared to have been held primarily because they were regarded as leaders of the student community and had been demanding improvements in their living conditions, rather than for their conduct during the demonstrations. While in custody they were reportedly beaten and subjected to mock executions.

More arrests occurred in October after an incident at celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of independence in which one person was killed. An army vehicle apparently went out of control and drove towards a stand in which government officials were sitting. A journalist was killed and others were injured. Official statements indicated initially that it had been an accident and later denied rumours that a coup attempt had taken place. However, a number of military personnel, including Kabinet Kaba, a non-commissioned officer in the air force, were arrested in Conakry. Shortly afterwards, there were reportedly arrests in the Kankan area, in the east of the country, the area associated with the Malinke ethnic group. None of those arrested was known to have been charged or released by the end of the year. All were believed to be held incommunicado.

On independence day in October. the government announced the release of 39 political prisoners. They had been among 201 people convicted at secret and unfair trials in 1986 before the State Security Court and Military Tribunal, apparently on charges relating to an unsuccessful coup attempt in July 1985. The 201 included 21 sentenced to death in absentia. Government sources indicated that the 39 released were the last prisoners remaining among those convicted and the only political prisoners remaining in Guinea. However, this left 63 prisoners -18 civilians and 45 military and police personnel - unaccounted for of the 72 civilians and 129 military and police personnel convicted at the secret trials. Of the remainder, 21 were tried in absentia, some were freed when the sentences were made public in May 1987, and 87 were released in January 1988. Two others, Diarra Traoré and Siaka Touré, were acknowledged by the government to have died in detention.

Those freed in October included three people who had been sentenced to death and seven others serving life sentences. No information was made available about the other prisoners who had been sentenced to death, many of whom were reported by unofficial sources to have been executed extrajudicially in July 1985, a year before their cases were officially said to have been tried. Similarly, nothing was disclosed about other prisoners who remained unaccounted for, such as Mory Kaba, an engineer sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment, and El Hadj Sory Sidibe, a relative of Sekou Toure, sentenced to life imprisonment. Secrecy also surrounded the fate of many of the 129 military and police personnel who had been convicted in separate trials, particularly as their identities had not been disclosed by the authorities and it was not clear what sentences each had received. After the October releases, 45 of these remained unaccounted for. They included former government minister Kabassan Keita, an army commander at the time of his arrest in 1985, who had been imprisoned and sentenced to death when former President Ahmed Sekou Toure was in power. There were also reports that many civilians and members of the military may have ''disappeared" in detention without any legal procedures having been initiated.

Amnesty International welcomed the October releases but expressed concern that many prisoners, almost all from the Malinke ethnic group, were still unaccounted for. Many Malinke appear to have been targeted for arrest because the leaders of the alleged coup in 1985 belonged to this ethnic group, to which former President Sekou Toure had also belonged. Amnesty International asked he government for information about them but received no reply. The organization also investigated the cases of students detained in January who appeared to be prisoners of conscience imprisoned because of their non-violent political views and investigated reports that civilians and members of the military had "disappeared".