In a welcome move, the UN Human Rights Committee has asked Guinea to adopt the draft bill for the promotion and protection of human rights defenders and ensure that it reflects the contributions of human rights organisations.
A coalition of Guinean NGOs has been working on the promotion of a national law on the protection of Human Rights Defenders with ISHR support. The Coalition took the opportunity of the review of Guinea by the UN Human Rights Committee to submit a report in collaboration with ISHR calling for the adoption of a bill reflecting contributions made by civil society.
The Ministry of National Unity and Citizenship initially developed the first draft of the bill. However, the voices of those who the bill was drafted to protect were not incorporated, resulting in a notable protection gap in the draft. To remedy this, Guinean civil society actors have worked relentlessly towards enriching the text and achieving greater protection for human rights defenders in the country. Some of their efforts include the organisation of two workshops in May 2017 and September 2018. During the first, the text was enhanced and presented to the national executive and parliamentarians. The second workshop, held in collaboration with ISHR, facilitated joint discussions between national authorities and civil society, enabling them to finalise the draft law.
“It is imperative that the draft protection law which has received the contributions and assent of civil society actors be prioritized, considered and approved during the ongoing parliamentary session”, says Souleymane Sow, General Coordinator of Amnesty International in Guinea.
The Human Rights Committee’s recommendation that Guinea “should guarantee the protection of defenders from threats and intimidation, particularly through the adoption of a focused and effective law on the protection of human rights defenders” is particularly welcome.
‘We hope that through all these communications to the government, the human rights defenders law becomes a reality, as recommended by the UN Human Rights Committee‘, Sow added.
The Coalition of Guinean NGOs has been working to disseminate the Human Rights Committee recommendations to various ministries of the national executive; organising a press conference; and launching a social media campaign on twitter.
In a recent development, the Guinean Minister of National Unity and Citizenship resigned on 14 November. Given the Ministry’s prominent role in the adoption process, it is hoped that the new Minister will promote and facilitate a smooth dialogue with civil society in ensuring the adoption of a protection law which reflects their concerns.
“It is imperative for Guinea to comply with the recommendations of the Human Rights Committee” says ISHR’s head of treaty body advocacy Vincent Ploton. “One of the best ways to do so is for Guinea to adopt a road map on the implementation of those recommendations, in close partnership with civil society” he concludes.
Read the full treaty body submission, including key recommendations here.