New Civil Society Report on Guinea: Poor access to information and weak implementation hinders anti-corruption efforts

7 December 2023 – 

Click on the image to download the report in French.

A new report by Association Guinéenne pour la Transparence (AGT) finds that whilst Guinea has a substantial anti-corruption legal framework and policies, there is a lack of implementation in practice, as well as an urgent need for more human, material, and financial resources across the board. The report is intended as a contribution to the UNCAC implementation review process in its second cycle, produced with technical and financial support from the UNCAC Coalition.

In general, Guinea has a broad legal and regulatory framework in place covering most provisions addressed in Chapter II and Chapter V of the UNCAC. However, these suffer from both ineffective implementation and a serious lack of resources. Challenges include the recent regime change, which has caused delays in updating the national anti-corruption strategy. The current institutional framework for anti-corruption policies, including the supervision and coordination of its application by the National Agency for the Fight against Corruption and the Promotion of Good Governance (ANLC-PBG), is allocated an insufficient budget to effectively carry out its mandate. The operational systems put in place are confronted by the interference of administrative and political authorities and occasional social pressures in the processing of cases; influence peddling; and the fact that monitoring reports from the different state bodies are often intended for supervisory authorities who decide on their follow-up. Notable efforts to include civil society have been made, however these are still limited in scope, and access to information remains difficult in practice.

Regarding Chapter V provisions of the UNCAC, similar problems persist, as delays in updating the national corruption strategy have had a spill-over effect, creating an obstacle in making the national committee for the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism operational. The report finds that growing corruption and impunity at the top tiers of state leadership has manifested itself through money laundering practices, the hiding of ill-gotten assets in Guinea or abroad as well as bank accounts and real and movable property. The last regime led by Professor Alpha Condé from 2010 to 2021 was characterized by financial mismanagement orchestrated by a system of governance based on clientelism, favoritism and nepotism.

The official UNCAC review process in Guinea began in 2018, but has experienced serious delays with the unconstitutional change in government and appointment of a new executive secretary of the ANLC-PBG. In this context, the appointment of the focal point has become problematic, as the new Guinean authorities have not sent the note verbale appointing a new focal point to the UN Secretariat General as of the time of writing this report. Only the governmental experts list is available on the UNODC country profile page, but Guinea’s self-assessment report has been sent to the UNODC for approval. Guinea has not yet signed the UNCAC Coalition Transparency Pledge.

For more the detailed findings, read the full civil society parallel report in French. The English version is forthcoming.

Main findings

Anti-corruption bodies and policies

Whilst Guinea has programs and practices to prevent corruption that encourage broad stakeholder participation, institutions lack effective independence and suffer from a shortage of human, material and financial resources to be effective in practice. The delay in updating the national anti-corruption strategy and in making the national committee for the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism operational is a further major obstacle to the application of anti-corruption legal provisions.

The supervision and coordination of the application of anti-corruption policies and practices in the country is done by the National Agency for the Fight against Corruption and the Promotion of Good Governance (ANLC-PBG). However, this institution along with the bodies and institutions implementing legal and regulatory provisions on the fight against corruption and related offences in Guinea also suffer from a low budget allocation and insufficient material and human resources. There is an urgent need for staff specialization and capacity-building, to enable staff to carry out their functions effectively.

Public sector employment

Regarding public sector employment, the Law on the General Status of Civil Servants defines the recruitment method for the public sector based on competitive examinations, with specified qualification criteria. Specific loyalty and promotion measures have also been introduced in the civil service, including incentives such as letters of congratulations, encouragement, bonuses, and honorary status. In practice, however, the civil service is plagued by fictitious employees, civil servants due to retire who are still in their positions without valid justification, among other malpractices. Furthermore, higher ranking officers receive poor remuneration and lack resources, creating a further obstacle to fighting against corruption in this sector.

Codes of conduct, Conflicts of interest and Asset declarations

The 2020 Law on the Code of Conduct for public servants in Guinea sets out the criteria and procedures for conduct, and encourages integrity, honesty and responsibility among public sector employees. However, in practice, there is a lack of monitoring of the implementation of this legal framework, and the lack of promotion of agents as provided for in the Law on the General Status of Civil Servants worsens the situation.

Public procurement and Management of public finances

The 2017 Law on the Prevention, Detection and Repression of Corruption and Related Offences sets out the rules and standards for public procurement, including anti-corruption mechanisms. The public finance governance framework and the law on the national budget sets out procedures for adopting the national budget and deadlines for timely communication of state expenditure and revenue. However, in practice, the public procurement code is not well-known and the citizen budget is only available in electronic format, limiting access for those outside of urban areas.

Access to information & Participation of society

The Law on the Right of Access to Public Information defines the modalities for access to public information, however, there are no mechanisms on publishing information from periodic reports on corruption risks within the public administration. The provisions of the law protect the freedom to seek, receive, publish and disseminate information concerning corruption, however these rights are accompanied by restrictions prescribed in the law. The weak application of the law on access to information, which is also not widely known to the public, and the withholding of information by public officials, present challenges to accessing information in Guinea.

Measures taken to increase the transparency of decision-making processes and promote public participation in the fight against corruption include the involvement of civil society and the media in citizen monitoring of public action, the membership of these actors on the Boards of Directors (C.A) of Public Administrative Establishments (EPA) and projects of national scope. Activities to inform the public not to tolerate corruption are undertaken through statements by the Prime Minister, poster campaigns and the distribution of leaflets, as well as public awareness-raising programs such as interactive broadcasts organized by both public and private media. Unfortunately, this does not involve schools and universities.

Anti-money laundering

The Law on the Fight against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing is the legal framework regulating the fight against this scourge in Guinea. The latter takes into account the concepts of prevention and detection of transfers of the proceeds of crime in Guinea, drawing on inspiration from instruments and initiatives of regional, inter-regional and multilateral organizations such as GIABA, FATF and the UNCAC.

The roles of the various players for preventing and detecting transfers of the proceeds of crime are not known to the public, as this is considered a state secret. However, it is worth noting the efforts made to involve civil society actors in raising awareness and evaluating various processes, such as the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the self-assessment of the UNCAC, the National Risk Assessment (NRA) and Mutual Evaluation (ME) of the AML/FT law.

Measures for direct recovery of property

In keeping with the spirit of the UNCAC, there are measures that take into account the requirements for another State Party to bring actions before the competent courts to recognize the right of ownership of property acquired through an established offence. The provisions contained in the AML/FT Act and the Anti-Corruption Act, as well as the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, define the powers and procedures for international cooperation. Yet in practice, it is difficult to prove the application of these various provisions due to the lack of transparency in the operation of the judicial system and the withholding of information.

International cooperation for the purpose of confiscation

The Law on Combating Corruption and Related Offences deals with the confiscation procedure at the request of a foreign state as well as the modalities of special cooperation. Similarly, the AML/FT Law provides for provisions on other forms of international cooperation and the modalities relating to the communication of information on the proceeds of established offences where it considers that the disclosure of such information could assist a State Party in initiating or conducting an investigation, prosecution or judicial proceeding or could lead to the submission by that State Party of a request. However, the departments in charge of this issue did not provide information to the authors of this report, which would make it possible to assess the implementation of these provisions in practice.

The return and disposal of confiscated property

The legal and regulatory framework governing the return of assets confiscated at the request of a requesting State is set out in the AML/FT Law on combating corruption and the Code of Criminal Procedure. One of the institutional measures taken to implement the legislative framework relating to the restitution and disposal of assets is the establishment of the Agency for the Management and Recovery of Seized and Confiscated Assets (AGRASC) in the Code of Criminal Procedure. In practice, a decree creating the AGRASC was issued in October 2022 and the decree appointing the members of the Board of Directors, in April 2023. In August 2023, AGRASC became operational with the launch of its activities through the establishment of a management team and a Board of Directors.

Key recommendations

In their report, Association Guinéenne pour la Transparence makes recommendations to the Guinean authorities to ensure the full implementation of the UNCAC, among them:

  1. Lead the assessment of Guinea’s implementation of Chapters II and V of the Convention by publishing the self-assessment report, signing and forwarding the note verbale appointing the focal point and inviting the reviewing countries;
  2. Promote the inclusion of stakeholders (public and private sectors, social actors) in the country evaluation process;
  3. Develop and/or update tools for combating corruption and its consequences, such as:
    1. The national anti-corruption strategy;
    2. The national strategy to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism;
    3. Communication mechanisms to ensure visibility and traceability in the transparent management of confiscated and/or returned funds;
    4. The operational plan for a structure to coordinate the actions of the bodies that implement the legal and regulatory provisions on the fight against corruption and related offences in Guinea;
    5. Mechanisms to facilitate the provision of information on mutually acceptable agreements or arrangements for the final disposal of confiscated assets with other countries.
  4. Clean up the civil service to reduce the number of phantom workers or civil servants who should be retired but have not yet left their position;
  5. Strengthen the powers and independence of law enforcement agencies by allocating a substantial budget and setting up a structure to coordinate the actions of the agencies that implement the legal and regulatory provisions;
  6. Increase the popularization, dissemination and appropriation of texts governing the promotion of good governance in strategic sectors, such as the public procurement code, the law on access to public information and the national development budget;
  7. Organize awareness and advocacy campaigns among decision-makers to make the law on access to public information effective;
  8. Continue and strengthen the introduction of mechanisms and instruments for coordinating tools to promote good governance, such as the Anti-Money Laundering Coordination Committee and the Agency for the Management and Recovery of Seized and Confiscated Assets (AGRASC);
  9. Strengthen the capacities of those involved in the fight against money laundering, including civil society and the media, in their field in order to facilitate their specialization according to the offences and crimes they are dealing with;
  10. Create a court specializing in the prosecution, investigation, judgment and application of penalties related to economic, financial crimes and other predicate offenses of corruption and money laundering/terrorist financing.
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