The United Nations human rights office today voiced deep concern at reported abuses committed during the violence that erupted in Guinea following the presidential election, including excessive force, use of live fire and incitement to ethnic hatred.
The violence began on Monday after Guinea’s Independent Electoral Commission declared Alpha Condé the winner of the run-off poll held on 7 November.
Four people have been confirmed to have been killed and over 300 other reported injured in the violence that took place in the capital, Conakry, according to the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“OHCHR staff in Guinea have documented numerous allegations of human rights violations and continue to carry out investigations,” spokesperson Rupert Colville told a news conference in Geneva.
The Office is deeply concerned by the manner in which Guinea’s security forces, while reacting to a series of demonstrations linked to the election, have used excessive force and resorted to live fire, he stated, adding that a number of members of the security forces have also been injured.
Mr. Colville said agents of the Force Spéciale de Securisation du Processus Electoral (FOSSEPEL) and red beret troops have fired on crowds with live ammunition in several parts of Conakry. OHCHR staff witnessed heavily armed red beret soldiers and FOSSEPEL police and gendarmes “brutally beating, arresting and shooting” at unarmed civilians in various locations.
In addition, human rights staff have received several reports that ethnically-motivated violence between Peuhl and Malinké youths was taking place in several neighborhoods, Mr. Colville noted.
According to victims interviewed by OHCHR, red beret troops have been collaborating with groups of ethnic Malinké youth to target property and homes owned by members of the Peuhl ethnic group.
“OHCHR urges the authorities and security forces, political leaders and their activists to refrain from violence and from inciting ethnic hatred,” said the spokesperson.
The Office also called on the transitional Government, which proclaimed a state of emergency, to scrupulously adhere to international norms regarding states of emergency, and to ensure that the security forces adhere to international standards governing the use of force and firearms.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today it is keeping a close eye on the situation in Guinea.
Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a statement in which she urged the security forces to refrain from any excessive use of force against civilians, and encouraged the political leaders to call on their supporters and fellow citizens to maintain calm and avoid unrest.
“All reported acts of violence will be closely scrutinized by the Office in order to determine whether crimes falling under the Court’s jurisdiction are committed and should warrant an investigation,” she stated.
Members of the Security Council yesterday deplored the violence in Guinea and urged political leaders in the West African country to refrain from actions likely to incite tensions.
They appealed to all parties to follow the existing legal procedure to “resolve their differences peacefully,” Philip John Parham, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency this month, told reporters after a closed-door meeting with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, who briefed them on the latest developments.