Guinea

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech, including for the press, but the government restricted press freedom.

Press and Media Freedom: Independent and opposition-owned media were active and generally expressed a wide variety of views. Print media had limited reach due to the low literacy rate (41 percent) and the high cost of newspapers. Radio remained the most important source of information for the public, and numerous private stations broadcast throughout the country. FM radio call-in shows were popular and allowed citizens to express broad discontent with the government. An increase in online news websites reflected the growing demand for divergent views. Nevertheless, libels and allegations could result in government reprisals, including suspensions and fines. In June the Communication High Authority (HAC) suspended the broadcast of a popular talk show for five days and barred the participation of one host for a month after he made disparaging comments about children of polygamist parents.

Violence and Harassment: There were reports of direct physical attacks, harassment, and intimidation of journalists by members of the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) political party affiliated with the government and law enforcement agents. In June, RPG party members attacked a journalist after he took pictures of a brawl at party headquarters.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: The government penalized media outlets and journalists who broadcast items criticizing government officials and their actions.

Some journalists accused government officials of attempting to influence the tone of their reporting with inappropriate pressure and bribes. Others hired bodyguards, and many practiced self-censorship.

On July 27, the reception of a Radio France International talk show about a possible, yet unconstitutional, third presidential term was blocked. The jamming ended immediately after the show, and the HAC denied any involvement or knowledge of the incident.

Libel/Slander Laws: Libel against the head of state, slander, and false reporting are subject to heavy fines. Officials used these laws to harass opposition leaders.

INTERNET FREEDOM

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority. According to the International Telecommunication Union, 26.5 percent of individuals had access to the internet in 2016.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

The constitution provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, but the government did not always respect these rights.

FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

The constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly, but the government restricted this right. The law bans any meeting that has an ethnic or racial character or any gathering “whose nature threatens national unity.” The government requires 72-working-hour advance notification for public gatherings. The law permits local authorities to prohibit a demonstration or meeting if they believe it poses a threat to public order. Authorities may also hold event organizers criminally liable if violence or destruction of property occurs. Police arrested two musicians and political activists while the latter were leading protests against corruption and government policies and charged them with unauthorized assembly. As of September they were awaiting trial.

Police use of excessive force to disperse demonstrators–often protesting poor public services–resulted in deaths and injuries (see section 1.a.).

Part of the 2013 and 2015 political accords promised an investigation into the political violence that resulted in the deaths of more than 50 persons in 2012 and 2013, punishment of perpetrators, and indemnification of victims. The government had taken no action on these promises by year’s end.

FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION

The constitution provides for freedom of association, and authorities generally respected this provision. Requirements to obtain official recognition for public, social, cultural, religious, or political associations were not cumbersome, although bureaucratic delays sometimes impeded registration.

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights. Police and security forces, however, continued to detain persons at roadblocks to extort money, impeding the free movement of travelers and threatening their safety. The government cooperated with UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, stateless persons, and asylum seekers.

In-country Movement: The government required all citizens over age 18 to carry national identification cards, which they had to present on demand at security checkpoints.

In 2012 the government announced the elimination of all roadblocks on the highways but declared it would maintain checkpoints along the borders and on certain strategic routes in Conakry. Police and gendarmes, however, set up random checkpoints throughout the capital and the country and routinely asked drivers to pay “tolls” or other illegal fees. Police and gendarmes occasionally robbed and beat travelers at these checkpoints and sometimes threatened them with death. High-level government officials acknowledged that the practice continued but claimed to be powerless to stop it.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

The country hosted refugees from neighboring countries including Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. As of January UNHCR recorded 5,176 persons of concern, most of them Ivoirian refugees. The end of the Ebola epidemic resulted in the reopening of the border with Cote d’Ivoire and allowed UNHCR to resume voluntary repatriation.

Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees.

STATELESS PERSONS

There were a few hundred effectively stateless persons, who originally came from Sierra Leone. These persons did not meet any of the criteria for Guinean citizenship–birth within the country, marriage, naturalization, or parental heritage. According to UNHCR these refugees requested neither repatriation nor local integration after the invocation of the cessation clause for refugees from Sierra Leone. Some of this population lived in abandoned refugee camps, while others moved from former refugee sites in Kissidougou to artisanal gold-mining areas in the northeast of the country.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future