May 11, 2009

Captain Moussa Dadis Camara
President, National Council for Democracy and Development
Republic of Guinea-Conakry

Dear Captain Camara,

Human Rights Watch is encouraged by the National Council for Democracy and Development's recent commitment to end human rights abuses and criminality by members of the military against ordinary Guineans. We write today to urge you to follow up this commitment with concrete actions.

As you know, Human Rights Watch recently released a report detailing human rights abuses committed by members of the Guinean army since the CNDD took power in December 2008. These abuses included armed robbery and theft, extortion, intimidation of the judiciary, and rape.

The April 29, 2009 televised meeting at Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp, during which Minister of Defense General Sekouba Konaté stated that the army would "no longer accept in our ranks those who have stolen, committed acts of banditry or rape," and during which hundreds of soldiers vowed before senior government officials not to commit such abuses, sent a powerful message. That meeting was a clear and welcome signal to Guineans and international observers that the current government takes seriously allegations of abusive behavior within the military.

Human Rights Watch strongly urges you to follow up this encouraging first move by taking concrete steps to both prevent and punish, in accordance with international standards, human rights abuses by members of the Guinean military. By publicly committing to investigate and prosecute members of the Guinean security sources implicated in human rights abuses, you will be taking a bold step to address the long-standing culture of impunity which has for decades undermined the rights of ordinary Guineans.

Concretely, we advise the following steps:

  • Inform all ranks of the military that credible allegations of human rights abuses committed by them will be investigated and those responsible held to account.
  • Allow the police, gendarmerie, and judiciary to effectively investigate, prosecute, and appropriately punish members of the security forces implicated in criminal acts.
  • Adequately compensate victims of abuses by members of the military.
  • Thoroughly review - and as necessary revise - the training curriculum for the military and other security forces to ensure comprehensive training on human rights issues. All training must be consistent with international human rights standards, such as the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.
  • Ensure the support for and independent functioning of the National Observatory for Democracy and Human Rights (ONDH). The ONDH, created in June 2008, is mandated to investigate and report on human rights abuses, conduct human rights education, and advise the government on issues related to human rights. It needs strong political support and a guarantee of the necessary resources and independence to carry out its work.

Your leadership and that of your colleagues will be needed to ensure the implementations of these recommendations. We stand ready to assist in Guinea's progression on human rights issues, and will welcome any further actions by the CNDD towards this goal.

Sincerely,

Corinne Dufka
Senior Researcher for West Africa
Human Rights Watch

CC:

  • Minister of Defense General Sekouba Konaté
  • Minister of Security and Civil Protection General Mamadouba Toto Camara
  • Minister of Justice Colonel Siba Nolamou, Docteur en droit
  • Mamadou Aliou Barry, President, ONDH
  • ECOWAS Ambassador to Guinea Edward Aina
  • El-Ghassim Wane, Director of Conflict Management, Peace and Security, African Union
  • Emile Ognimba, Director of Political Affairs, African Union
  • OHCHR Regional Representative for West Africa Mamahane Cisse-Gouro
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