Contact with the outside world

Visits are regulated by the penitential administration and vary between institutions. Cases of bribery, where staff demand families pay entrance fees (2,000 to 5,000 GNF, approx. 1USD) were criticized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) in a 2014 report. Prisoners must also pay 2,000 GNF at the end of the visit so their family can leave.   

bout one third of the prisoners are abandoned by their families and receive no visitors. This is usually the result of social stigmatization, commute costs, and entrance fees. The Committee against torture condemned the practice of entrance fees during the universal periodic review of Guinea in 2014. Prisoners are threatened with torture if their families do not pay these entrance fees.

No formal conjugal visit procedure exists. In practice, prisoners can organize intimate visits in discreet locations.

Phone calls are limited and must be paid for with bribes to prison guards.   

The postal system in Guinea is poor and rarely used. Relatives and close friends can send mails to prisoners via prison staff. They are read by the prison administration before being passed on to prisoners. It is possible to hire a lawyer to maintain a mailbox outside the prison and pass on mail and packages.   

For hygiene reasons, Prisoners cannot receive ready meals, including fish or meat. Weapons, sharp objects and drugs are also forbidden.

Amnesty and presidential pardon are the only possible ways to obtain reduced sentences.

President Alpha Condé agreed to partial or total reduction of sentence for 171 prisoners in December 2015. Four of them had been held arbitrarily in prison, following the attack on the presidential house in 2011. The other prisoners were common law prisoners.

Prisoners without sufficient funds can benefit from legal aid. In practice, only 10% of prisoners benefit from this aid due to a lack of lawyers. The report published by the OHCHR in 2014 confirmed that the budget allocated to justice is no more than 0.5% of the national annual budget.

Those accused of a crime must have a lawyer. When legal aid is provided, the quality of the service is not guaranteed. Public defenders commonly receive cases briefings on the day of the hearing. Only the wealthy have access to an effective criminal defense.

The NGO Mêmes droits pour tous (MDT) offers free legal aid in Conakry and Nzérékoré. In 2012, MDT pressed charges against the Guinean State for illegal detention of I.C, a prisoner sentenced to two years in prison who was held for four and a half years. In February 2012, the Supreme Court sentenced the State to pay I.C. 120,000,000 Guinean francs (16,326 USD). The victim is still waiting for compensation to be paid.   

The law requires the criminal court to sit twice a year. In practice, several years can pass before a legal hearing occurs. Consequently, temporary detention limits have often already passed.   

A project seeking to align the penal code, the procedural code, and the military justice code with international norms started in 2014, but the project is progressing slowly. A superior council of magistracy (SCM), tasked with selecting judges and improving their training and working conditions was established at the same time.

Guinea signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture in 2005 (a facultative UN convention). The UN is still awaiting its ratification. The CHR completed universal period reviews in May 2014 and January 2015, the government reaffirmed its commitment to ratify the convention on both occasions.