Seven members of an opposition political movement in Guinea were, on May 7, 2019, sentenced to three months in prison and a fine of 500,000 Guinea Francs each after they staged a protest against President Alpha Conde.
Boubacar Barry, Thierno Mamoudou Diallo, Mohamed Camara, Amadou Soumah, Sylla Mohamed, Mamadou Celou Diallo and Mohamed Keita are all members of the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), a political group opposed to any constitutional changes to allow President Conde to seek a third term.
They were arrested on May 4, 2019, at the Fodé Fissa stadium in Kindia, where the president was performing the official launch of festivities to mark Guinea’s 61st independence anniversary.
The seven were wearing-shirts with the inscription “No to Constitutional Changes”, the catchphrase of opponents of the Presidents’ perceived ambition to seek a third term, when they were arrested. They were charged with “obstructing the right to demonstrate and disturbing public order” under article 625 and 561 of Guinea’s criminal code.
Alpha Condé, 81, has not yet spoken about the constitutional changes reportedly being planned to allow him to seek a third mandate in 2020. However, many of his recent pronouncements have been interpreted in that direction and the authorities are getting increasingly intolerant of opponents of his perceived third-term ambitions.
After the verdict, the seven activists, who had spent three days in pre-trial detention, were returned to prison under heavy surveillance to serve their three-month prison terms.
In an interview with reporters at the end of the hearing, the defense lawyer, Salif Béavogui, described the trial as “politico-judicial” and “shameful.”
The MFWA finds the arrest, the arbitrary detention and subsequent sentencing of the seven activists as ridiculous and unacceptable in a democracy. Guinea’s constitution guarantees the right to peaceful protest, and we call on the authorities to uphold this right at all times.