UN human rights report documents appalling detention conditions in Guinea
GENEVA, Switzerland, October 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Detainees and prisoners in Guinea are held in squalid, overcrowded facilities that fall far short of international human rights standards, according to a new UN report released Monday on human rights in detention centres in the country.
Based on visits by the UN Human Rights Office in Guinea to 30 detentions centres and 53 police and gendarmerie holding cells, the report documents human rights violations at various stages of the justice process, including the lack of respect for due process guarantees during arrest, detention and in the conduct of court cases.
“The application of fundamental rights and procedural guarantees, such as the rights to physical integrity, the right to a lawyer during the penal process and the right of an accused to be brought before a judge within a reasonable time, have been severely restricted,” the report states. The report has also documented numerous cases of torture and other ill treatment in detention.
It cites the “quasi-systematic recourse to provisional detention” and the lack of regular court hearings as key causes for the serious overcrowding in Guinean prisons. At the “Maison centrale de Conakry” prison, for example, of 1,140 detainees as of May last year, only 250 had been convicted while 890 were in provisional detention. The Maison centrale was originally built to hold 300 prisoners.
“[Holding cells] are cramped, dark, overheated and unsanitary. They lack ventilation and decent latrines,” the report notes. “Prisoners sleep on the floor.”
In some detention facilities, minors share cells with adults. There are also no detention centres for women, meaning that women are sometimes held in the corridors of detention facilities or forced to share the same latrines with men. Accused and convicted individuals are also often detained in the same cells.
The report acknowledges the Government's efforts to reform the security sector, in particular through the adoption of a national security policy. The Government has also adopted measures to improve conditions of detention, including the construction or renovation of some prisons, and the improvement of quality of food in prisons. It has also worked to renovate judicial, police and gendarmerie infrastructure.
However, it urges the Government to redouble its efforts to ensure that conditions of detention conform to international norms and standards. It also calls for the prompt adoption of a law criminalising torture and measures to ensure that every allegation of torture is thoroughly and impartially investigated.