Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Guinea: Rein in Soldiers

Guinean soldiers have been implicated in regular acts of theft and violence against businesspeople and ordinary citizens since a new government took power in a military coup in December 2008, Human Rights Watch said today. The new government should put a stop to these attacks and make certain that the police, gendarmerie, and judiciary carry out independent investigations and prosecute implicated soldiers.

Human Rights Watch collected accounts from victims and witnesses to 19 such incidents, nearly all committed by heavily armed soldiers wearing red berets and traveling in both civilian and official military vehicles without license plates. Soldiers in groups numbering up to 20 have raided offices, shops, warehouses, medical clinics, and homes in broad daylight as well as at night. Soldiers have stolen cars, computers, generators, medicines, jewelry, cash, mobile phones, and large quantities of wholesale and retail merchandise, among other items. Victims include Guineans and foreigners. Many witnesses to these incidents reported that the soldiers appeared to be intoxicated. Many of the victims were also threatened or physically assaulted.

"The coup seems to have opened up a rash of abuses by the military; the impunity enjoyed by these soldiers must come to an end," said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The coup leaders need to bring the rank and file under control, and ensure those responsible for these abuses are promptly investigated and prosecuted."

To be continued

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