feiten, impressies en beelden       

1 december 2013

In de afgelopen week is in de Veiligheidsraad de situatie van Guiné-Bissau besproken; zie hier een kort verslag van o.a. de toespraak van de speciale vertegenwoordiger van Ban Ki-Moon  voor Guiné-Bissau: José Ramos-Horta:

The holding of credible and peaceful elections next year is vital for the process of restoring constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau, a United Nations envoy told the Security Council today, urging continued international support to help the West African nation complete this process. Constitutional order has still not been restored in Guinea-Bissau, which is recovering from an April 2012 coup. A transitional Government led by Transitional President Serifo Nhamadjo is in place until elections are held.

“Progress in the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau remains frustratingly slow,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, José Ramos-Horta, said in his briefing to the 15-member body. He said that lengthy consultations among national stakeholders to agree on the voter registration system and to finalize the electoral budget and timeline have significantly contributed to the delay in advancing electoral preparations, including inmobilizing the required resources to cover the elections. Presidential and legislative elections were to have been held this month but have now been scheduled for 16 March 2014. Mr. Ramos-Horta said the holding of these polls “should remain our key priority to ensure a rapid return to constitutional order in the country.” He commended the country’s international partners for their generous pledges of financial support to the electoral process, and urged them to disburse them rapidly. “The onus is now on the Transitional Government to take the necessary steps towards the timely holding of the elections,” said Mr. Ramos-Horta, who is also head of the UN political mission in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). Delays in preparations for the elections, he noted, have had a negative impact on the implementation of the mandate of the mission, whose efforts have mainly focused on responding to the country’s immediate political, security and human rights challenges. He reported that the human rights and security situation in Guinea-Bissau has continued to deteriorate, “with increased cases of intimidation, threats and restrictions of freedom of expression and assembly, as well as continuing interference of the military in the affairs of the State.” In September he expressed concern to the Transitional President over continuing human rights violations and impunity in the country, and referred to the “generalized climate of fear created by the unlawful behaviour of the defence and security forces. “That climate of fear has persisted to date and is not contributing to a conducive environment for the holding of peaceful and credible elections,” the envoy stated, adding that the transitional authorities must ensure that those responsible for unlawful acts are brought to justice.

Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota of Brazil, the Chairperson of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, said that the Council’s active engagement remains critical as the country enters “what we hope are the last stages” of its transition back to constitutional order. While preparations for the polls are under way, recent episodes of violence and intimidation are a matter of deep concern and a reminder of the fragility of the security situation and of the long road ahead towards stability, said Mr. Patriota. “We all know that elections in themselves, while an essential pre-requisite for sustained stability, will not provide a comprehensive answer to the numerous challenges that Guinea-Bissau faces,” he stated. “Much needs to be done to secure a constructive post-electoral environment.” 


5 juni 2013

Op de site www staat een realistisch verslag van de deplorabele staat van het openbaar onderwijs: 

BISSAU, 30 May 2013 (IRIN) - Guinea-Bissau’s chronic political turmoil is depriving children of quality education. Access to education remains low, learning is often disrupted by teachers’ strikes and the country spends the lowest portion of its budget on education in West Africa.

Since independence from Portugal in 1974, the small West African country has been jolted by a string of military coups and a deadly civil war (1998-99) which have undermined social and infrastructural development and made it one of the world’s poorest states.

The current interim government came into being after a coup in April 2012. In the three months after the military takeover, more than 90 percent of state primary and secondary schools were closed due to the absence of effective government, said Tomoko Shibuya, head of education programmes at the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Guinea-Bissau.

“Schools are in a deplorable state; there are no desks; roofs are in disrepair and children cannot learn during the rainy season,” said Armando Correia Landim, head of the country’s 10,000-strong parents’ association.

UNICEF Guinea-Bissau spends US$3.5-4 million annually supporting primary education with textbooks, teacher training and curriculum revision, among others. By contrast, the government spent roughly US$11 million on education in 2010 (the most recent year for which figures are available). 

In that year the government spent 11 percent of the budget on education - the lowest proportion in West Africa. At 30 percent Ghana allocates the highest amount to education in the region. More than 90 percent of Guinea-Bissau’s education budget pays salaries, leaving little or nothing for teacher training, buildings and equipping schools, according to the UNICEF.

Many Guinea-Bissau donors also withdrew budgetary aid after the latest coup; some had done so earlier owing to perennial instability.

Teachers only recently called off a strike they began in early May - the third strike this school year, resulting in the loss of about a third of annual tuition time. The teachers’ union said some of the dues owed to their members date back to 2003.

Teachers’ union leader Luis Nancassa blamed the government: “An empty sack cannot stand upright. It’s inhuman to employ someone for 4-5 months without a salary,” he said, referring to newly recruited staff. “We decided to paralyse learning because the teachers no longer have the energy or the will to continue working without pay.”

Audit required

Education Minister Vicente Poungoura admitted that the “education system is poorly organized” and that an extensive audit was required to determine the exact number of schools and teachers in order to better manage the education sector.

“The government must first have a clear idea of what problems it faces in the education system. Only then can it ask for help from other partners,” said Poungoura who took up office as part of the interim government.

“An evaluation will help us understand what should be done. That is why I have insisted that a census must be done in the education sector.”

He explained that lack of a clear policy to manage free primary learning had also contributed to the country’s education crisis.

“We embarked on free education without regard to financial implications. There is also the problem of staff. We had poorly trained teachers under the free education system. In a poor country like Guinea-Bissau [free education] is sometimes utopian,” Poungoura told IRIN.

Quality poor

While the net attendance rate for primary and secondary schools rose to 67 percent in 2010, up from 54 percent in 2006, the quality of education has been poor. Only about 60 percent of children complete primary school, and the same goes for secondary school. Overall, only 22 percent of children who enter the school system complete secondary school, according to UNICEF.

The primary school 
completion rate is among the lowest in West Africa.

Shibuya also noted there were few female teachers. “This discourages girls from continuing with studies because they don’t have role models.”

Widespread poverty, insufficient learning materials and teachers, inadequate teacher training, early marriage for girls, the seasonal use of child labour, and long distances that some students have to cover to get to school, are some of the other barriers to education in Guinea-Bissau.


Meanwhile, some parents have been taking matters into their own hands.

“As parents, we cannot just sit back and do nothing,” said Landim. He explained that a scheme set up by the parents’ association in 2010 had ensured that the main state schools in the northeastern Gabu and Bafata regions as well as in Tombali and Quinara in the east were functional during the teachers’ strike.

Parents make a monthly contribution of 700-2,000 CFA francs (US$1.3-4) depending on the region, to pay teachers up to 30,000 CFA francs ($60). The scheme is meant to complement their pay (they get an average of $140 per month from the government) during lengthy salary delays.



28 mei 2013 

The political situation deteriorated sharply following the death in January of President Malam Bacai Sanhá, culminating in a coup in April. It deteriorated further following a reported attack on a military barracks in October, which exacerbated the already fragile human rights and humanitarian situation. The armed forces committed numerous human rights violations with impunity, including arbitrary arrest and detention, beatings and extrajudicial executions. Freedoms of assembly, expression and the press were severely curbed. The killings of political and security figures since 2009 remained unpunished.


In January, President Malam Bacai Sanhá died after a long illness. Presidential elections held in March were won by former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior. As he fell just short of an outright majority, a second round was scheduled for late April. Ten days before the second round of the elections, the military staged a coup, took control of the capital, Bissau, and arrested the former Prime Minister and Interim President. Both were released from military custody two weeks later and sent into exile.

Repressive measures were imposed to stifle criticism of the self-styled Military Command that had taken control. All demonstrations were banned and soldiers used force to disperse peaceful spontaneous demonstrations. The military claimed their action was prompted by the presence of Angolan troops in the country under a bilateral agreement to assist with the training and reform of the security sector. In early May the Military Command and its civilian allies reached an agreement with ECOWAS for a one-year transition and the deployment of ECOWAS troops to Bissau. Two weeks later, a transitional President and government were appointed, which was not recognized by the international community.

In October the authorities claimed that a group of soldiers and civilians had launched an attack on a military base in the outskirts of Bissau and that six attackers were killed. They accused the former Prime Minister of involvement. Military personnel committed serious human rights violations in the search for the alleged perpetrators of the attack.

Freedom of expression – journalists

Private radio stations were shut down at the time of the military coup and remained off the air for two days. They were allowed to resume broadcasting under severe censorship and at least one radio station decided to remain closed. Journalists were also impeded from carrying out their work and were harassed or arrested. The correspondent of Portugal’s state broadcaster, Radio Televisão Portuguesa, was expelled in October for his critical reporting of the government and military authorities.

Unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions

There were reports suggesting that the six people allegedly killed during the attack on the military base in October, four civilians and two military officers, had been extrajudicially executed. Soldiers also reportedly extrajudicially executed five people in Bolama, Bijagos Islands, whom they accused of being accomplices of Pansau Ntchama, the alleged leader of the October attack. Others were unlawfully killed for their links with deposed government figures.

Luis Ocante da Silva, a close friend of the former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, José Zamora Induta, died as a result of beatings by soldiers. On 6 November he was taken from his home by a group of soldiers, beaten and taken to an undisclosed location. Two days later soldiers took his body to the morgue in the central hospital. His family were allowed to see only his face and were not allowed to take the body for burial.

No investigations were carried out into these killings or other human rights violations by the military. Impunity also persisted for political killings since 2009.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Following the coup in April, soldiers searching for deposed government officials beat their families, friends and employees and vandalized their homes. Most ministers went into hiding, where they remained for several months; a few fled the country. Members of civil society groups were also targeted. Some, including several members of the Human Rights League, received threats against their lives and took refuge in embassies.

The day after the October attack on the military base, soldiers arrested and beat Iancuba Indjai, president of the opposition Party of Solidarity and Labour and spokesperson of the Anti-Coup National Front, a grouping of political parties and civil society groups who opposed the April coup. Iancuba Indjai was abandoned by the roadside some 50 km from Bissau. Local residents found him seriously injured and alerted his family. He was subsequently taken to a hospital abroad.

Later the same day, soldiers went to the Bissau office of Silvestre Alves, a lawyer and president of the Democratic Movement party; they beat him and took him away. He was later found unconscious by a road 40km from the city by local people who took him to a hospital. He was taken abroad for medical treatment. 


12 mei 2013

De speciale vertegenwoordiger van de algemeen secretaris van de VN voor Guiné-Bissau, José Ramos-Horta, heeft bij de Veiligheidsraad rapport uitgebracht over de toestand in het land:


The United Nations top official in Guinea-Bissau said today (9 May) that the recent arrest and indictment of two Bissau-Guinean military leaders on charges of drug trafficking "is a turning point in the fight against drug trafficking" in this African country.


José Manuel Ramos-Horta, who is the United Nations Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau, said the arrest and indictment constitute "a strong signal to the Bissau-Guinean elite and those using the country as a transit route for drugs, that the international community will not accept Guinea-Bissau being turned into a drug trafficking platform."


Former Navy Chief of Staff Rear-Admiral Bubo Na Tchuto was arrested in international waters in early April by the US Drug Enforcement Agency which also announced the indictment of Guinea-Bissau's Armed Forces Chief of General Staff, General Antonio Indjau,


Ramos-Horta was delivering Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's latest report on Guinea-Bissau to the Security Council.


Turning to the political situation, he said "all Bissau-Guineans must absorb a new political culture where elections would not lead to the division of the country and the winner takes it all."


The Special Representative called for a government of national unity following the next legislative elections and said "no single political group can alone manage the transition from the deep hole where Guinea-Bissau has sunk to lasting peace and prosperity."


The report also said that the mandate of the United Nations political mission in Guinea-Bissau, known as UNIOGBIS, which last year underwent a military coup, should be adjusted to support a two-phase process for the full restoration of constitutional order and medium-term stability in the country.


Ambassador João Soares Da Gama of Guinea-Bissau told the Council that the country's economy "is practically on its knees because of the blocking of aid flows from our principal partners as a result of the coup d'etat of April last year."


In order to overcome the current crisis, Soares Da Gama urgently requested that humanitarian assistance "be exceptionally granted to our country."

Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau – a West African country with a history of coups, misrule and political instability since it gained independence from Portugal in 1974 – seized power on 12 April 2012.


The coup d'état came ahead of a presidential run-off election that was slated for 22 April between Carlos Gomes Júnior and a former president, Kumba Yala, prompting calls from the international community for a return to civilian rule.