UN rights chief urges accountability for coup in Guinea-Bissau

UN rights chief urges accountability for coup in Guinea-Bissau

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[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] insisted on Friday that anyone who engaged in violent acts relating to the April 12 coup d’etat in Guinea-Bissau [BBC backgrounder] should be held accountable [press release] for their actions. In the press release, Pillay voiced concern that the unstable situation in Guinea-Bissau following the coup could lead to crackdowns on human rights:

I cannot stress enough the importance of full respect for the fundamental human rights of freedom of movement and expression, as well as peaceful association and assembly. The transitional government has a clear duty to ensure that all human rights are fully respected and protected in the country, including the right to security and safety of those who need to return to their homes. I hope that, with the establishment of a transitional government, the right of individuals to free movement will be guaranteed.

Pillay also urged Guinea-Bissau’s military to withdraw a list of 57 individuals who are barred from leaving the country until further notice.

Guinea-Bissau has experienced instability, resulting in several coups, since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974. Two weeks after the coup in April, the UN Security Council [official website] called for constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau [JURIST report]. Pillay hoped to prevent another coup when she urged [JURIST report] the people of Guinea-Bissau in March to refrain from any violence during the upcoming election. The same month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] asked the government, military and civilians to maintain order [text] during the elections. In 2010, the EU discontinued [JURIST report] its EU SSR Guinea-Bissau Mission [official website] that provided assistance to the country’s security forces in developing a legal framework, citing the breakdown of law and order in the country. A few months earlier, Ban called on leaders in Guinea-Bissau to respect the rule of law [JURIST report] and maintain constitutional order in the wake of another confrontation between the military and government.