A U.S.-based human rights group says arbitrary arrests and vigilantism
in Guinea has raised concerns about the human rights situation in the
West African nation.
Corinne Dufka, a senior West Africa researcher for
Human Rights Watch, says the experience of a Guinean man typifies the
concerns the U.S.-based rights group has about the situation in Guinea.
in the Guinean capital, Conakry, say the man had been passed over with
a hot iron, cut with razor blades, and beaten. Dufka says the man had
been caught trying to break into a home, and local residents had
physically punished him in response to a recent call to vigilante
justice by a government security official.
"Then there's the
problem of the call to vigilante violence by the head of the ministry
in charge of fighting serious crime and drug trafficking," she said.
"Captain Tiegboro Camara. In response to rising crime, he met with
community leaders, and he told them that they should, if they find an
individual in the process of committing a crime, he should be burned
Dufka says the man who was caught and beaten died
shortly after the attack. She adds that Human Rights Watch has only
encountered this one example of someone being killed due to the call to
vigilante justice. But she says her organization wants Captain Tiegboro
Camara to retract the statement. So far, he has not done so.
visited Conakry this June to conduct a fact-finding mission on the
country's current human rights situation. She said Human Rights Watch
came away with new concerns about the country.
"The last time I
was in Conakry was about two months ago, and in between April and June
I noted a marked difference in the attitude of normal Guineans," said
Besides the call for vigilante justice, Dufka says the
country's ruling military government, the National Council for
Democracy and Development, which is known by its French acronym, CNDD,
has arbitrarily arrested some members of the military and held them
"There's the case of twelve military, who were
primarily very close to late president Conte, who have been detained
since December, January in Camp Alpha Yaya," she said. "Charges have
not been brought against them. These twelve military officers were
questioned on one occasion by the gendarme. They were told they found
nothing against them, and yet they still remain in camp Alpha Yaya
without access to their lawyers. They do have access to their families."
adds that the shift in local attitudes toward the military government
and its leader, Moussa Dadis Camara, is also a response to a lack of
progress in elections that are supposed to take place this year.
over a month, funds to the electoral body have been withheld, so the
progress in registering votes has essentially been stopped," she said.
"The citizenry are very concerned about the delays in the electorate.
So they're getting fed up, and they're clamoring for the election
process to take form."
The CNDD seized power in Guinea, the
world's biggest bauxite producer, last December after longtime
president Lansana Conte died. When the military government appointed
Dadis Camara as its de facto president, he promised to hold
presidential elections in 2009. Dufka adds that the CNDD has allowed
the press to continue to operate freely, though there is a certain
amount of self-censorship.