News / Africa

Amnesty International Says Guinea Security Forces Need Urgent Reform

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Britain-based Amnesty International says Guinea's security forces need reform.  An Amnesty report strongly criticizes foreign countries for providing military equipment and training to Guinea without safeguards. 

The Amnesty International report looks at the causes and aftermath of the bloody repression of an opposition rally four months ago in Guinea's capital, Conakry.  It says the perpetrators of the violence have not been brought to justice and Guinea's security forces need serious reform.

The Amnesty International report also highlights the role played by foreign countries in Guinea's security affairs.

Mike Lewis is Amnesty's expert on military and security issues. "That massacre was partly made possible by systemic failure of states all around the world to stop the supplies of arms and operational training to those forces persistently violating human rights.  So in some senses they provided the tools to make this massacre possible," he said.

The report criticizes China, France, and other countries for providing Guinea with military equipment and training, despite what it calls a decade-long history of human rights violations.

Last week, France announced it will resume military cooperation with Guinea.  But Lewis says without serious reforms within Guinea, this is a mistake. "As states including France notify that they are beginning military cooperation again with Guinea, they need to make sure that that cooperation does not happen and those arms supplies and training do not resume until there has been a really thorough reform of Guinea's security forces," he said.

Analyst Alex Vines of the London-based research group Chatham House says the security situation in the West African state is improving.

Guinea's military took power in 2008, but promised to organize elections after coup leader Moussa Dadis Camara was wounded last December.   Last week, Guinea officials said an election will be held in June in order to return the country to civilian rule.

Vines says Guinea needs the support of France at this vital time.  "I think that in the short term there needs to be some signaling and support that Guinea is moving on," he said.  "That makes spoilers, like supporters of Dadis Camara, more difficult to get a foothold, so I am not against that."

A preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court found crimes against humanity had occurred during the Conakry crackdown last September.  The United Nations says at least 156 people were killed when Guinea security forces opened fire at a political rally. 

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