An Appeal Court in Conakry on May 13, 2019, ordered the release from detention of seven protesters of the pressure group Front National Pour la Defense de la Constitution(FNDC) recently arrested in Kindia during a visit by President Alpha Condé.
The dissidents were accused of heckling the President, who was presiding over a ceremony at the Fodé Fissa stadium in Kindia on May 4. They were stripped of their shirts bearing the inscription “Touche pas a Ma Constitution,” (Don’t Touch My Constitution), the catchphrase of the Front National Pour la Defense de la Constitution (FNDC), a group which professes to defend Guinea’s constitution.
On May 7, they were sentenced to three months in prison and a fine of Guinea Francs 500,000 (about US$ 54) each after being found guilty of public order offences.
They were however set free by an appeals court on May 13. The court also ordered that the seized T-shirts of the defendants be returned to them.
The MFWA welcomes the release of the protesters as a victory for the rule of law and the right to peaceful demonstration. The seven dissidents did not have to be arrested in the first place, given that their protest against the President was a legitimate exercise of their freedom of expression and assembly rights. We urge the authorities in Guinea to demonstrate more tolerance for dissent and refrain from abusing the rights of citizens who express divergent opinions through demonstrations or protests.