Amnesty International Report 2014/15 - The State of the World's Human Rights - Guinea-Bissau

Republic of Guinea-Bissau
Head of state: José Mário Vaz (replaced Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo in June)
Head of government: Domingos Simões Pereira (replaced Rui Duarte de Barros in July)

Persistent political tensions and human rights violations eased following elections in April and the setting up of a new government in July. Impunity for past human rights violations, including political killings in 2009, persisted. Social tension decreased following the resumption of international aid and the payment of arrears on some public sector salaries.

Background

After several postponements, parliamentary and presidential elections were finally held in April. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won the parliamentary election. Presidential elections were won by José Mário Vaz of the PAIGC, with 61% of the vote.

Sanctions imposed by the international community following a coup in April 2012 were lifted in July and international aid resumed. The new government began paying salary arrears to public servants, which reduced social tension and the threat of strikes.

In September, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Integrated Peace-Building Office in Guinea-Bissau until November.

Also in September, President Vaz dismissed the Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces, General António Indjai, who led the April 2012 coup.

Police and security forces

Although the election campaign was largely peaceful, there were some reports of threats, beatings and abduction of politicians by security forces in the pre-election period, apparently intended to coerce support for certain presidential candidates. In February, the president and another leading member of the political party People’s Manifest publicly stated that they had received death threats, which they attributed to the security services.

In March, security personnel abducted Mário Fambé, a leading member of the Social Renewal Party, in the capital, Bissau, and took him to the Navy Headquarters where they beat him to persuade him to support their favoured candidate. He sustained serious injuries. The following day, soldiers took him to the Military Hospital for treatment and released him.

The day before the second round of presidential elections in May, some 12 members of the PAIGC were beaten by security officers in two separate incidents in Bissau and in the northern town of Bafata. They included some newly elected parliamentarians and at least two women.

There were no investigations into these incidents.

Impunity

By the end of the year, no one had been held accountable for human rights violations committed in the context of the 2012 coup, nor for the political killings that had occurred since 2009.

Justice system

A law against domestic violence which was promulgated in January, had not come into effect by the end of the year.

Nine people accused of an attack on a military base in Bissau in October 2012 and convicted in March 2013 after an unfair trial by a military court were released in September 2014. Three were released following an appeal to the High Military Court, which accepted that there was no evidence of their participation in the attack. The remaining six were released two weeks later following a presidential pardon.

Women’s rights

In February, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights visited Guinea-Bissau and found that gender inequality and discrimination were the main factors underlying poverty. She attributed the high maternal mortality rate to the fact that 60% of pregnant women did not receive adequate ante-natal care. In August the new government introduced free medical care for children under five years of age, pregnant women and the elderly.