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26 February 2021 – Guinea

Fraternité Des Prisons Members Along with the Dubréka Prison and Coyah Prison Directors, (GuinéeMatin,
Fraternité Des Prisons Members Along with the Dubréka Prison and Coyah Prison Directors, (GuinéeMatin, "COVID-19 : Fraternité des Prisons de Guinée offre des kits aux détenus de Dubréka et Coyah," 20 June 2020,

Guinea, located on the west coast of Africa, declared a state of emergency on 26 March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which included several emergency measures like the closure of borders and schools. By 26 February 2021, the country had recorded 15,789 cases of COVID-19 and 88 related deaths. On 14 February 2021, the Ministry of Health informed the WHO of a new cluster of Ebola infections in the Gouécké Nzérékoré region.

There is little information available about the impact of the pandemic on refugees and migrants in Guinea. According to UNHCR, as of 31 January 2021, there were 5,561 refugees and 305 asylum seekers in the country. As of 15 February, there were 511 Ivorian arrivals to the country, and registration and border monitoring were on-going. According to UNHCR, most of the new arrivals in Guinea had entered through unofficial points, not subject to COVID-19 precautions. In addition, due to the recent outbreak of Ebola in areas of Guinea bordering Côte d’Ivoire, sensitisation campaigns are taking place amongst refugee communities to raise awareness and prevent the spread.

In December 2020, the country began vaccinating its population with the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine. Government officials were the first to receive the vaccine at a vaccination centre in Conakry. Dr Sakoba Keita, the Director-General of the National Health Security Agency said: “We have ordered 2 million doses (from Russia) to be able to vaccinate vulnerable people and we have also placed orders in the People’s Republic of China, all that in order to show the commitment of the government to go onto the offensive to use this latest strategy that served us well during the Ebola (outbreak).”

The GDP has been unable to establish the extent to which detention facilities are used in Guinea as part of immigration procedures or to get details about COVID-related precautions or restrictions officials may have adopted vis-à-vis foreigners in administrative procedures.

Articles 73 and 75 of Act No. L/94/019/CTRN on the conditions of entry and residence for foreign nationals in the Republic of Guinea provide criminal penalties for foreigners who remain in Guinea irregularly and those who overstay their visas. In its concluding observations in 2015, the Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) noted the government’s statements that the act is not applied and that migrant workers in an irregular situation are not usually placed in detention. The Committee nonetheless recommended that Guinea: “(a) Indicate in its next periodic report the number of migrants, disaggregated by age, sex, nationality and/or origin, who are currently being detained for having violated the law on migration (…); (b) Amend Act No. L/94/109/CTRN to decriminalise irregular migration, since the Committee considers that, in accordance with general comment No. 2 (2013) on the rights of migrant workers in an irregular situation and members of their families, staying in a country in an unauthorised manner or without proper documentation or overstaying a residence permit should not constitute a criminal offence.”

As regards the COVID-19 situation and protective measures adopted in the country’s prisons, on 29 April 2020, Guinea’s National Health Security Agency told AFP that authorities had discovered a positive case of COVID-19 inside Conakry’s central prison, without specifying whether an inmate or a guard had been infected. By 28 August, there were reportedly 86 cases in the country’s prisons and three prisoners had died from the disease. Rights groups say the country’s prisons are often disease-ridden and overcrowded. For instance, according to Amnesty International, Conakry central prison has capacity for 500 inmates, but currently holds around 1,700.

Humanitarian and civil society organisations have been providing support to the country’s prisons. In June 2020, Prisonniers Sans Frontières provided 20 bags of rice and 48 liters of oil for detainees at Conakry central prison. In addition, on 20 June, Fraternié des Prisons de Guinée installed 27 hand-washing stations, 10 soap cartons and two bleach cartons to the Dubréka and Coyah prisons. On 31 May 2020, the Minister of Social Action, Promotion of Women and Children announced the release of children in detention. The minister also said that 42 children had already been released from the prisons of Conakry, Labé, and Kankan.