Paris-Geneva, August 11, 2022. The space for civil society continues to shrink in Guinea, where the ruling military junta has dissolved the Front national pour la défense de la constitution (FNDC), thus taking a new step in suppressing all dissenting voices. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (International Federation for Human Rights–FIDH and World Organisation Against Torture–OMCT), African Defenders and Tournons la page denounce this escalation of repression and call on the authorities to reverse this decision and to guarantee the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression in the country.
By an order dated August 6, 2022 and made public on August 9, 2022, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Mr. Mory Condé, announced the dissolution of the Front national pour la défense de la constitution (FNDC) on the grounds that it would organise armed demonstrations on the public highway and that it is not one of the non-governmental organisations approved in the country. This dissolution took place without prior notification and without the possibility for the FNDC to make observations or disputes. This decision comes as the FNDC has just announced the resumption of demonstrations after an unsuccessful truce requested by Umaro Sissoco Embalo, current president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which was to allow a favorable outcome to the crisis between the FNDC and the Guinean authorities for months.
The FNDC is a citizens’ movement created in April 2019 to protest against President Alpha Condé’s desire to modify the Guinean constitution or to adopt a new one in order to be able to run for a third term. Despite the adoption of a new constitution in March 2020 which allowed the re-election of Alpha Condé in October of the same year, FNDC activists continued their fight for democracy. In September 2021, President Alpha Condé was overthrown by a military junta coup that seized power in Guinea and engaged the country in a process of solitary and authoritarian transition. Faced with the numerous attacks on democracy by the junta, such as the suspension of the constitution replaced by a transitional charter or the recent ban on all demonstrations in the country, the FNDC is campaigning for a return to constitutional order and a rapid transition to civilian power in consultation with civil society.
The signatory organisations recall that the military junta in power in Guinea has been targeting the FNDC and its members for several months in a clear desire to silence the protest movement and hinder any citizen mobilization. On July 30, the leaders of the FNDC Oumar Sulla and Ibrahima Diallo were brutally arrested following the violently repressed demonstrations of July 28 and 29, 2022 organized by the FNDC, causing the death of several demonstrators. The two activists have since been charged with "criminal participation in a crowd", "intentional assault and battery", "conspiracy", "obstruction of freedom of movement", "complicity", "burning and looting" and "destruction of private property", and were placed under a warrant of committal at the central house in Conakry where they are currently arbitrarily detained.
In addition, the Keeper of the Seals Mr. Charles Wright asked the General Prosecutor’s Office of Conakry to institute proceedings for "defamation" and "disclosure of false information" against the FNDC and its strategy and planning manager Mr. Sekou Koundouno following the denunciation by the movement, on August 1, 2022, of the deadly repression of FNDC citizen demonstrations to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The signatory organisations deplore these new acts of harassment against the FNDC and its members and call on the military junta in power to revoke the decision to dissolve the FNDC and to immediately release Oumar Sylla and Ibrahima Diallo as well as all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Guinea and to drop all charges against them.
Furthermore, the signatory organisations call on the ruling military junta to guarantee the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in the country, in accordance with Guinea’s international commitments, in particular under Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Articles 9, 11 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.