Given the history of intercommunal violence in Guinea, two high-level UN Officials voiced concern on Tuesday over the risk of “incitement to hostility, discrimination or violence” as the country gears up for elections on 18 October.
“There are already serious indications of rising intolerance and confrontation, including among youth groups, and media outlets amplifying messages of hate”, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.
Along with Pramila Patten, UN Acting Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, she urged political leaders, particularly candidates campaigning for the elections in Guinea, to refrain from invoking ethnic affiliations designed to raise tensions, and using intentionally provocative language.
Ms. Bachelet also called on all candidates to refrain from stirring up ethnic divisions, condemn any provocations and commit to peaceful participation in the electoral process.
Ms. Patten appealed to all leaders across the West African nation to stop themselves from instrumentalizing ethnicity or sowing seeds of division, for political gain.
“Such maneuvers are extremely dangerous and must be stopped”, she asserted. “Any individual responsible for incitement to commit violence or atrocities will sooner or later be held accountable for their acts before a national or international court”.
The UN Special Adviser reminded the Government of its primary responsibility to protect all its populations from acts of violence – irrespective of ethnic or political affiliation.
Moreover, she encouraged all concerned parties to resolutely commit to dialogue for a peaceful and transparent electoral process.
Sexual violence persists
Recalling events in the capital city, Conakry, on 28 September 2009, when at least 109 women and girls were sexually victimized, simply on account of their political affiliation, the Special Representative warned that the threat of sexual violence continues, in many contexts – a tool to intimidate and punish political opponents, their family members and women human rights defenders.
Eleven years on, Ms. Patten instructed all Guinean political actors to send a strong message to end sexual violence once and for all.
Against the backdrop of the reported use of excessive force by security forces during demonstrations in October 2019 and March 2020, both UN officials also stressed the need for accountability.
Although the Government announced investigations into the violence – including killings – to date, there has been no further information on their outcome.