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MFWA organises public forum on impunity

(MFWA/IFEX) - 16 November 2009 - "Today in Guinea, if you invite any journalist to participate in any media discussion, he or she would not turn up for fear of being attacked by the soldiers (. . . ) Apart from journalists, other human rights defenders and citizens also live in fear." These were the exact words of a Guinean human rights lawyer when he addressed a public forum on Guinea at the Ghana International Press Centre in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

The forum, under the theme: "Guinea: End Impunity Now" was organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) to rally support for ordinary Guineans in the wake of a political crisis that has recorded some of the worst human rights violations in recent times. More than 150 citizens were killed in Conakry following a mass rally calling on the junta leader, Captain Dadis Moussa Camara, not to run in the upcoming presidential elections next year. A number of people were also injured in the violence and more than thirty cases of rape were recorded by civil society groups in Guinea.

The general consensus among forum participants was that there is a need for the sub-regional Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) to act quickly to prevent the situation in Guinea from degenerating into another violent conflict in the region, which has seen its fair share of civil strife in the last decade.

Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, General Secretary of the Lomé-based International Trade Union Confederation-African Regional office (ITUC-Africa), who chaired the forum, urged West African leaders to be mindful of the refugee situation in the Mano River region, which has become a challenge to the entire sub-region.

The forum was addressed by a number of rights activists, including Professor Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of MFWA, Akoto Amapw, a prominent Ghanaian human rights lawyer, Adwoa Klubitse, Country Director for Actionaid Ghana, and Alimou Dialo, Regional Programmes Coordinator for the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP).

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