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Executive Summary

Guinea-Bissau is a multiparty republic. In March 2019 the country held legislative elections, which included all 102 seats in the National Assembly. Presidential elections held in November 2019 resulted in two finalists: Domingos Simoes Pereira and Umaro Sissoco Embalo. The National Elections Commission declared Sissoco the winner of the December 2019 presidential runoff election. Sissoco assumed the presidency in February 2020, after an unofficial inauguration and transfer of power from outgoing president Jose Mario Vaz, the first president to serve out a full term. President Sissoco appointed Nuno Gomes Nabiam as prime minister. Although international observers considered elections in the 2019 cycle to be free and fair, the Sissoco government used intimidation and arbitrary arrest to consolidate its power.

National police forces maintain internal security. The Judicial Police, under the Ministry of Justice, has primary responsibility for investigating drug trafficking, terrorism, and other transnational crimes. The Public Order Police, under the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for maintenance of law and order. Other police forces include the State Information Service (intelligence), Border Police (migration and border enforcement), Rapid Intervention Police, and Maritime Police. The army is responsible for external security but also has some internal security responsibilities. The armed forces may be called upon to assist police in emergencies. Civilian authorities at times did not maintain control over the security forces. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed some abuses in the aftermath of the 2019 elections.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: cases of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by police; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; politically motivated reprisals against individuals in another country; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence against journalists; serious government corruption; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence; trafficking in persons; and the worst forms of child labor.

The government had mechanisms to investigate and punish officials who committed abuses and engaged in corruption, but impunity remained a serious problem.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future