The United Nations human rights office today expressed its concern over the unrest that has been taking place in Guinea over the past week, which resulted in numerous deaths and injuries, and called on authorities to protect civilians and ensure all parties refrain from using violence to resolve disputes.
"We call on national authorities to ensure the strict application of law and remind them of their responsibility to protect civilians," the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.
"We also call for a prompt, impartial and effective investigation to ensure that those responsible for the human rights violations which have been committed are held accountable."
Last Wednesday, one person was killed and over 100 injured in protests in the capital, Conarky, against President Alpha Conde's preparation for the legislative poll. The protest was reportedly followed by inter-communal clashes among Peuhl and Malinke communities.
The clashes started in the neighbourhood of Hamdallaye, a suburb of Conakry, and then spread to other parts of the city over the weekend.
Mr. Colville said that at least five people, including one police, had been killed and 172 people had been injured by stones hurled by protesters or by live fire from security forces. Three of the deaths and at least 12 injuries were cause the use of live ammunition.
"According to our sources, some demonstrators were attacking people based on their ethnicity, while others looted shops as overstretched security forces struggled to maintain order. Private homes, vehicles and other property were also attacked, and in some cases destroyed," said Mr. Colville.
OHCHR urged demonstrators to refrain from using violence and damaging property, and condemned the targeting of people based on their ethnicity. In addition, it expressed concern at reports of the disproportionate use of force by security forces.
"We welcome the calls for calm by the President of Guinea and several political and religious leaders, and call on all parties to use non-violent means to resolve disputes," Mr. Colville said.
Flare-ups of political violence have occurred before in the country. On 28 September 2009, Guinean security forces opened fire on civilians in an opposition rally in a soccer stadium in Conakry, killing at least 150 and resulting in the rape and sexual abuse of 109 women.