The arrest of human rights defender Me Antoine Pépé Lama: an infringement on the freedom of expression of all human rights defenders in Guinea

Mr. Pépé Antoine Lama, Lawyer at the Bar of Guinea, member of the Bar Council, and active member of Les Mêmes Droits pour Tous and the PILIWA network, was arbitrarily arrest last month by the Guinean police.

Facts of the arrest
On Monday, June 7, 2021, around 12:00 p.m., Mr. Lama was arrested on the premises of the Judicial Police Headquarters (Direction Centrale de la Police Judicaire, or DCPJ). Mr. Lama was at the DCPJ in performance of his duties as a lawyer and human rights defender, as he was there to meet with Commissioner Mathieu Haba about a criminal defendant whom he is defending in court.

Once he arrived, Commander Sékou LY directed Mr. Lama to go to the office of Comptroller-General Aboubacar Fabou CAMARA, without giving any reason. Commander Ly and the Comptroller-General proceeded to violently insult and threaten Mr. Lama, exclaiming: “Look at that! Who do you think you are? I’m going to bring you up on charges. You think we’re playing? I’ll show you how to play!” They then arrested him without cause. Mr. Lama was only released thanks to the intervention of the Guinean Bar Council.

Complaint filed
Due to this unfortunate act, Me Antoine and the Guinea Bar Council filed a complaint on June 8, 2021, against Sékou LY and Aboubacar Fabou CAMARA before the 1st Criminal Court of Conakry for public insult and infrigement of individual liberties. The defendants appeared in Court on and were released on bail in the amount of 3,000,000 Guinean francs (approximately 300 U.S. dollars). However, following the intervention of the Guinean Minister of Justice to pacify the parties and find an amicable settlement, Me Antoine and the Bar Council withdrew their complaint.

Human rights defenders are constantly harassed in Guinea:
The arrest of Me Pépé Antoine Lama is not a first. His detention is part of a worrisome pattern of detention of active human rights defenders in Guinea that violate the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998. These arbitrary detentions and threats constitute acts of intimidation aimed at deterring human rights defenders and punishing their legitimate activities.