For the past two months, Oumar Sylla, alias Foniké Menguè - a member of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) and deputy coordinator of Tournons La Page (TLP-Guinea) - has been arbitrarily detained in Conakry's central prison. He is accused of unlawful assembly, disturbing public order, undermining state security and destroying public property.
On 29 September 2020, Oumar Sylla was violently arrested by plainclothes men in the street in the commune of Matoto in Conakry as he was about to take part in a demonstration organised by the FNDC to protest against President Alpha Condé's candidacy for a third term. He was taken to the Direction de la Police Judiciaire (DPJ), where he was interrogated without his lawyers being able to assist him. They were refused entry to the DPJ premises, which is an infringement of the rights of the defence. A few hours later, the prosecutor of the Mafanco court decided to place Oumar Sylla under a committal order and have him imprisoned in Conakry's central prison.
This is not the first time that this civil society activist has been arbitrarily arrested and detained. Already arrested on 17 April 2020 on charges of "spreading false information", the charge was deemed unfounded by the criminal division of the Dixinn Court of First Instance. Oumar Sylla was then released on 27 August 2020 after more than four months of abusive imprisonment.
"If the rule of law is functioning in Guinea, it is attacked by the political power that abuses its ability to arrest civil society activists. This harassment must stop. The place of human rights defenders is not in prison" said Agir ensemble pour les droits humains.
Oumar Sylla also narrowly escaped arrest on 12 October 2019 when six other civil society figures with whom he was in contact were arrested on the eve of a demonstration against the constitutional change.
The situation of Oumar Sylla is indicative of the treatment of representatives of Guinean civil society who have mobilised to demand respect for the Constitution and denounce the will of President Alpha Condé to remain in power.
"We strongly condemn the new arbitrary detention of Oumar Sylla, which is yet another illustration of the widespread repression against all dissident voices in Guinea" deplores the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT).
The organisations signing this statement call on the Guinean authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Oumar Sylla, to put an end to the persecution of those who peacefully express their opposition to the ruling authorities and to guarantee the fundamental rights recognised by the Guinean Constitution.
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Tournons La Page Guinea : Ibrahima Diallo - firstname.lastname@example.org
Agir ensemble pour les droits humains : Thibaud Kurtz – email@example.com
Front Line Defenders : Mariam Sawadogo- firstname.lastname@example.org