President Alpha Condé of Guinea using COVID-19 to quell dissent, Human Rights Watch warns

Although we are headquartered in Washington D.C. USA, our reporters and editors are working around the globe to cover what you care about. We invite you to donate to our fundraiser to help us keep our quality news free and available to all.  

The administration of President Alpha Condé of Guinea is using COVID-19 to quell dissent and violate rights, Human Rights Watch warned on Wednesday.

Authorities there have harassed, intimidated, and arbitrarily arrested opposition members and supporters in recent weeks, in an atmosphere of insecurity linked to restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Human Rights Watch said.

Health authorities have confirmed 1,240 Covid-19 cases and seven deaths as of April 29, the majority in Conakry. The number of cases has increased steadily since the first was confirmed on March 13. Given limited testing capacity, the number of infections is most likely higher. Guinea has only four testing laboratories, three of them in Conakry.

[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]

Human Rights Watch said Guinea’s health system is not prepared to deal with a deluge of Covid-19 cases, making compliance with social distancing instructions especially important, “however, security forces are abusing people and enforcing the current emergency measures in a manner that undermines public trust.”

On March 27, 2020, President Alpha Condé announced a state of emergency and a series of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, including closing borders, banning large gatherings, shutting down schools, and restricting movement out of Conakry, the capital. Three days later, he imposed a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, and on April 13 ordered the compulsory use of protective masks and extended the state of emergency until May 15.

Human Rights Watch said for the past several months, in the lead up to and during the controversial March 22 constitutional referendum and legislative elections, security forces have violently cracked down on opposition members and supporters. Opposition groups boycotted the vote, accusing President Condé of planning to use the constitutional change to prolong his stay in office.

“On April 14, gendarmes beat and arrested a 38-year-old FNDC member at his home in Tougue, Central Guinea, allegedly for setting fire to the Tougue gendarmerie station on February 28. “He had malaria and was on drip when he was arrested,” a family member said. “Six gendarmes broke into his home, kicked and slapped him several times. When I visited him the following day at the station in Labe, Fouta Djallon region, I asked the gendarmes to take him to the hospital. They refused and sent a doctor to his cell instead.”

“On April 16 a policeman broke into the home of a nurse in Conakry’s Hamdallaye neighborhood and beat her, accusing her of supporting the opposition. “The policeman beat her and said: ‘You are bothering us too much’ – because she lives in an opposition stronghold area,” a witness said. “Then, he beat her again with a truncheon, all over her body, including on her face. Her nose was swollen. She was in pain for several days”.

“On April 17, police arbitrarily arrested Oumar Sylla, a FNDC member, at his home Conakry. They detained him first at the office of the general intelligence headquarters and then at the judicial police headquarters (Direction de la Police Judiciare) in Conakry until April 24, when he was taken before a court of first instance in Conakry, accused of spreading false information, and taken to Conakry central prison. Sylla’s lawyers had refused to assist him until his case was presented to the prosecutor to protest what they described as “illegal behavior and methods of the police.”

“On April 18, the FNDC called for a stay-at-home strike in Conakry on April 21 to protest Condé’s decision to hold a session to appoint the president of the National Assembly and the 114 newly elected legislators, which would require elected officials to gather. The FNDC said the decision contravenes the government’s ban of large gatherings to curb the spread of Covid-19,” the rights organization detailed.

Conakry residents described an atmosphere of insecurity during the curfew.

“Abuses by the security forces are fueling an already deep-seated distrust of the authorities, adding an obstacle to the fight against Covid-19,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government should rein in its security forces and ensure they respect human rights in enforcing restrictions.”

Human Rights Watch said it interviewed 15 victims, family members of victims, and witnesses, as well as 15 medical workers, journalists, lawyers, opposition politicians, and activists between March 26 and April 26, and shared its findings via email on April 23 with Albert Damatang Camara, the security and civilian protection minister, requesting responses to specific questions. Camara has not replied.

[/read_more]

Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Based in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, Simon leads a brilliant team of reporters, freelance journalists, analysts, researchers and contributors from around the world to run TODAY NEWS AFRICA as editor-in-chief. Simon Ateba's journalistic experience spans over 10 years and covers many beats, including business and investment, information technology, politics, diplomacy, human rights, science reporting and much more. Write him: simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Trending Now

Trump says Sudan to be removed from terrorism list if it pays $335 million in compensation

President Donald Trump on Monday said Sudan will be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism once it...

Anxiety in Africa as Johnson & Johnson conceals critical details about COVID-19 vaccine illness

Anxiety continued to mount across Sub-Saharan Africa on Monday over COVID-19 vaccine trials by Johnsons & Johnson, as the company continued...

Rights group urges AU to denounce crackdown on Cameroon’s opposition

Human Rights Watch on Monday urged the African Union (AU), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Economic...

Mass prison break: Thugs disguised as protesters free over 200 inmates in Nigeria

Thugs disguised as protesters have freed over 200 inmates in Nigeria.The criminals disguised as EndSARS protesters freed...

Mauritania should free activists held on charges of blasphemy and insulting Islam: HRW

Mauritania’s government should drop charges of blasphemy and insulting Islam against eight political activists and release the five held in pretrial detention...

MOST POPULAR

Damning report finds detainees in Iran were sexually abused and given electric shocks in gruesome post-protest crackdown

Iran’s police, intelligence and security forces, and prison officials have committed, with the complicity of judges and prosecutors, a catalogue of...

Africa shocked U.S. under Trump has worst coronavirus response in the world

President Donald Trump has "failed in his basic duty to protect Americans", world's renowned journalist Bob Woodward told Fox News Sunday...

Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial taking place in South Africa halted by participant’s illness

Johnson & Johnson confirmed on Monday that it had paused its COVID-19 vaccine study because one of its participants was taken...

Ethiopia charges prominent opposition figure Jawar Mohammed with terrorism

As human rights organizations continue to warn that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is turning Ethiopia into a dictatorship, his administration on...

EXCLUSIVE: IMF economist details how COVID-19 economic turmoil in Asia will affect Sub-Saharan Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic is battering economies in Asia with a contraction expected for the first time in many decades. The economic...

Trump says Sudan to be removed from terrorism list if it pays $335 million in compensation

President Donald Trump on Monday said Sudan will be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism once it pays $335 million in compensation to American terror victims and their families.Trump said in a tweet that the Sudanese government agreed to pay the $ 335 million in compensation for victims of terrorism, adding that once the...

[/read_more]

[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]

52 Shares
Share
Tweet
WhatsApp
Reddit
Share