Guinea’s Parliament on July 6, 2019, approved a law, which empowers gendarmes in the country to exercise discretion to decide if it is appropriate to shoot on sight without fear of prosecution. About 133 Parliamentarians from all sides abstained from approving what has been termed by critics as a “dangerous law.”
“This law is dangerous in the sense that, even before its passage, we have been recording deaths during demonstrations. I think we have spilt enough blood in Guinea,” protested Hamidou Barry, Secretary General of the human rights group, Organisation Guineenne des Droits de l’Homme (OGDH).
For the opposition, the new law is intended to encourage the Gendarmerie to be more robust in their crackdown on ongoing protests against President Alpha Conde’s bid to modify the Guinean Constitution in order to seek a third term in office.
In our opinion, the passage of the law by the Alpha Conde government is reckless for a country with such a dismal history of public order operations by the security forces. A typical example is the September 28, 2009 massacre of more than 150 protesters and rape of 100 women by the security forces during a peaceful demonstration.
The MFWA, therefore, considers the new Law as a threat to the people of Guinea and seriously undermines freedom of assembly rights, which a key democratic value recognised and guaranteed under Article 10 of the country’s constitution.
We therefore call on the authorities to reconsider the new “shoot-on-sight” law as it has the potential to encourages gendarmes to be reckless in the use of lethal force on civilians, especially during protests and elections.