The United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) has condemned the recent use of force by members of the country’s security and defence forces against a group of demonstrators.
In a statement issued on Monday, UNIOGBIS said that “the right to freedom of assembly, expression and association is guaranteed in the national legislation as well as in the international conventions adopted/ratified by Guinea-Bissau, and that they should be strictly respected and protected by competent authorities.”
According to UNIOGBIS, the protesters had been concentrated in front of its premises while it was hosting a meeting of international partners accredited to Guinea-Bissau.
Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau – a West African country with a history of coups, misrule and political instability since it gained independence from Portugal in 1974 – seized power on 12 April. The coup d’etat came ahead of a presidential run-off election that was slated for 22 April – and prompted calls from the international community for the return to civilian rule and the restoration of constitutional order. Last week, the Security Council imposed a travel ban against five military officers involved in the coup.
Also last week, Guinea-Bissau’s Military Command reportedly handed over power to a transitional civilian Government, following the signing of a political agreement and a transitional political pact.
In its statement, UNIOGBIS called on the country’s security and defence forces “to ensure respect for the rule of law and for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all individuals,” as a pre-condition for the consolidation of peace.
The statement also highlighted the Security Council’s resolution 2048 of 18 May, which had expressed concern about “reports of human rights violations, including with regard to the repression of peaceful demonstrations.”
The office reaffirmed the United Nations’ commitment to ensure that “the human rights of all individuals in Guinea-Bissau are respected, protected and promoted.”
Last week, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that she remains concerned over continuing instability in Guinea-Bissau, following the coup and amidst reports of human rights violations, including the violent repression of a peaceful demonstration, looting and arbitrary detention of civilians.