Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report

Introduction

The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Guinea to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Guinea's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at www.state.gov.

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The U.S. Government's primary objective in the country is to promote a strong representative democracy that is led by a vibrant and informed civil society capable of peacefully advocating for necessary political and economic reforms. Currently, the U.S. Government is focused on encouraging a restoration of civilian rule through free, fair, and transparent presidential and legislative elections. The U.S. Government also is committed firmly to improving respect for human rights and strengthening the press.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

While the U.S. Government has suspended much of its bilateral foreign assistance to the country in response to a 2008 coup d’état, certain U.S.-sponsored democracy programs continue as part of efforts to assist the country to prepare for free and fair elections scheduled for later this year. U.S. programs reinforced electoral institutions, supported improved political processes, increased awareness of civic responsibilities, encouraged NGOs to provide civic education and advocacy for citizen interests, and encouraged citizen participation in local governance. The U.S. Government helped strengthen the country's national electoral commission through a variety of training programs and technical assistance. The U.S. Government trained 2,808 election officials in the National Independent Election Commission and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Political Affairs in order to better equip the groups in properly preparing for national elections. In addition, the U.S. Government trained 1,325 political party representatives on their role in the political transition, the value of including women in the political process, and on strategies to improve fundraising and expand communication. U.S. Government programs helped to improve voter registration systems by retraining 400 registration agents and conducting 38 field missions to increase voter turn-out. The voter registration campaign reached approximately two million persons, and over 4.3 million Guineans were registered to vote. The U. S. Government also facilitated several conferences for locally elected government representatives and civil society leaders to provide a mechanism for constructive dialogue on key issues.

Through speeches and frequent meetings with government officials, political parties, trade unions, businesspeople, the press, and other actors, U.S. officials advocate for stronger democratic institutions, reduced corruption, and improved electoral processes. Through outreach to youth, women, and other politically marginalized sectors, the U.S. Government encourages peaceful civic participation and a broader understanding of democratic principles. For example, in May, the U.S. mission will host a speaker on “Strengthening Democratic Institutions,” focusing on the role of civil society, political parties and the media in advocating for and monitoring elections, as well as supporting the post-election transition to democracy.

U.S. public diplomacy programs also focused on strengthening the press, especially private radio, which has expanded greatly since the liberalization of the airwaves in 2006. In anticipation of the country's June elections, the U.S. Government supported a week-long training program for 20 journalists on how most effectively to cover an election. The United States provided transmitters to a private radio station and the government-owned Rural Radio to enhance their ability to provide election coverage and civic education. Other U.S. Government programs include numerous video conferences and speaker programs on elections, as well as democracy programs at U.S.-sponsored libraries in Conakry and Kankan. In addition a U.S.-funded NGO project seeks to provide media campaigns and increased civic awareness through community radio. Another U.S.-funded project offers journalism training to journalists in preparation for upcoming elections.

The U.S. Government strongly condemned gross human rights violations perpetrated by the junta government in 2009 and worked closely with the UN Commission of Inquiry in its investigation of a September 2009 massacre of prodemocracy protestors by government forces. A U.S. Government-hosted human rights working group, launched in 2008, has grown into a potent forum for political discussion and networking with over 100 representatives from local NGOs, the private sector, and the government. It meets once a month to discuss a wide range of human rights topics, including trafficking in persons, violence against women, respect for individual rights during elections, and rights for disabled persons. During 2009 the United States also funded several projects focused on reducing female genital mutilation (FGM). One such project in the Forest Region provided livelihood training to dozens of FGM practitioners so that they could afford to abandon the practice for another occupation. Another U.S. project supported outreach efforts to hundreds of communities in order to encourage entire villages to abandon FGM as well as the practice of early and forced marriages. The U.S. Government continues to support programs to combat the worst forms of child labor through education, as well as a program to enhance national capacity in child labor data collection, analysis and dissemination. The U.S. also supported an antitrafficking project, which focused on monitoring and assisting trafficking victims along the country's border with Mali. While this project closed in November 2009, reporting indicates that the project succeeded in raising awareness on the issue and left in place a functioning network of local NGOs that continue to address the human trafficking problem.

[This is a mobile copy of Guinea]