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Guinea: Current situation in Guinea-Conakry according to the Guinean Organization for the Defence of Human Rights (Organisation guinéenne des droits de l'homme - OGDDH)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 20 July 2001
Citation / Document Symbol GIN37564.FE
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Guinea: Current situation in Guinea-Conakry according to the Guinean Organization for the Defence of Human Rights (Organisation guinéenne des droits de l'homme - OGDDH), 20 July 2001, GIN37564.FE, available at: [accessed 29 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

A representative of the Guinean Organization for the Defence of Human Rights (OGDDH) provided all of the following information during a telephone interview that took place on 21 June 2001. The OGDDH representative was reached at the John Abbott College in Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue, near Montréal, where he was involved in the international program on human rights education offered by the Canadian Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development [Centre canadien des droits de la personne et du développement démocratique].

A member of the OGDDH since 1994, the representative was insistent in pointing out that his organization is managing to function despite threats it receives from the authorities. By way of example, he indicated that it sometimes happens that their telephone is cut off or their correspondence is intercepted. However, in spite of everything, the OGDDH members manage to visit prisons and to promote awareness among the authorities.

The mandate of the OGDDH, among other things, is to promote, defend and make human rights accessible in Guinea, and it is affiliated with the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues [Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'homme (FIDH)], with the InterAfrican Union of Human Rights [Union interafricaine des droits de l'homme (UIADH)] and with the WARIPNET, which brings together 15 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the anglophone and francophone countries of West Africa.

During the telephone interview, the following subjects were addressed:

1. the political situation in Guinea;

2. forced conscription;

3. the situation of women, in particular with respect to domestic violence, genital mutilation and forced marriage;

4. the situation of homosexuals;

5. the general situation in the country;

6. the situation of persons of Lebanese origin.

1. The political situation

In Guinea there are currently three main opposition parties, including the Rally for the Guinean People [Rassemblement du peuple de Guinée (RPG)], led by Alpha Conde, who was released from prison on 18 May 2001. Alpha Conde had been arrested in December 1998 and accused of sabotage. The two other parties are the Union for the New Republic [Union pour la nouvelle république (UNR)] under the leadership of Ba Mamadou and the Union for Progress and Renewal [Union pour le progrès et le renouveau (UPR)] under Siradiou Diallo.

The political parties in Guinea are generally formed along ethnic lines, and the political opposition is "muzzled" in a way. Demonstrations and rallies of a political nature are strictly prohibited.

However, there are no political prisoners in Guinea at the present time. The last political prisoners were released at the same time as the leader of the RPG, Alpha Conde (18 May 2001). Most of the political prisoners, who numbered close to a hundred, were Malinke. They were generally close relatives of, or from the same region as, Alpha Conde, that is, from Upper Guinea.

2. Forced conscription

Under Guinean law, military service is not mandatory. However, in the zones affected by the war, young people who are sometimes less than 15 years old are conscripted by force into the army. The Guinean army is multiethnic, but most of the officers belong to the same ethnic group as the president or are members of the president's family (family in the extended sense of the word).

3. The situation of women

3. 1. Domestic violence – Violence against women is tolerated culturally and is usually carried out with the greatest discretion. It is more widespread in the rural areas than in the cities. The police do not generally intervene in cases of domestic violence unless serious blows and injuries have been inflicted. Neither are there any shelters for women who are victims of domestic violence. Cases of domestic violence are usually settled within the family (family in the extended sense of the word).

3. 2. Genital mutilation – Genital mutilation, notably excision, is very widespread, especially in the rural areas. In the cities, excision is still practised, but it is now performed in hospitals.

The explanation for this practice is to be found in secular traditions, the Muslim religion (close to 95 percent of the population are of this religion), and the fact that the practice is a source of income for the women who perform excisions.

In the forests of Guinea, excision is performed on adults (between 25 and 30 years old) whereas elsewhere in the country, excision is performed on girls when they are much younger. Excision is practised largely by members of the Peulh, Malinke and Soussou ethnic groups.

The decision to have young minor girls undergo excision falls to family members, in particular, grandmothers, aunts and older sisters. In the case of persons who have reached the age of majority, the women themselves make the decision to undergo excision.

It should be noted that due to the social stigma, a woman who has not undergone excision feels humiliated and rejected by the people in her immediate circle.

With respect to the situation of women in general, some progress has been made, notably due to the work of NGOs of women and human rights organizations. For example, these organizations have suceeded in bringing about awareness among the authorities, and legislation prohibiting excision has been promulgated. However, most women are not yet aware of the existence of these NGOs and do not know their rights either.

It is to be noted as well that there is a certain amount of good will on the part of the Government, in particular in the interventions by the ministry responsible for women's affairs. Furthermore, it is of interest that there is no political party in Guinea that has built its program on religious principles and taken any position whatsoever in the debate on women's rights.

3. 3. Forced or arranged marriages – Under Guinean law, 18 years is the minimum legal age for marriage.

However, in certain areas, especially in Fouta-Djallon, it is the parents who sometimes decide on the future spouses of their children when the children are still very young. In other cases, a great deal of pressure is brought to bear on young girls to force them to marry against their will. As for adult women, they have more freedom in the choice of a husband.

The right to divorce is recognized under Guinean law, but in practice it is difficult to obtain for the following reasons: the Muslim religion; the courts which move slowly in this area, thus discouraging women from initiating divorce proceedings; and the social stigma attached to divorce. It should be pointed out that in the rural areas in particular, a divorced woman is sometimes rejected by her relatives; however, in the city, divorce is more widely accepted.

4. Homosexuality

Homosexuality in Guinea is "taboo". It is not even spoken about, and it is as if it did not exist. Consequently, there are no protection services for homosexuals.

5. The situation in the country in general

The country is going through a war because of the regional context (that is, its proximity to Sierra Leone and Liberia and the repercussions of war for the country are serious. In fact, as a result of war, thousands of refugees have arrived on the national territory and economic and social infrastructures have been destroyed. Some border towns have been completely destroyed.

6. The situation of persons of Lebanese origin

There is a Lebanese community in Guinea. However, under the regime of Sekou Toure, many of the members of this community went to bordering countries. With the advent of the new regime, they have begun to return.

The Guinean population in general views the Lebanese as being [translation]"the ones who introduced corruption into the country", with the result that there is a certain resentment against them.


Organisation guinéenne des droits de l'homme (OGDH). 21 June 2001. Conférence téléphonique avec un représentant.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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