Viewing cable 07CONAKRY1264
Title: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH MIN OF JUSTICE - TRYING TO DO

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07CONAKRY12642007-11-26 11:40:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Conakry
VZCZCXRO5377
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHRY #1264/01 3301140
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 261140Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY CONAKRY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1901
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CONAKRY 001264 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12598:  N/A 
TAGS: ECIN EFIN ECON PGOV GV
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH MIN OF JUSTICE - TRYING TO DO 
SOMETHING WITH NOTHING 
 
REFTEL:  CONAKRY 1207 
 
¶1.  (SBU) SUMMARY.  The Minister of Justice discussed her ministry's 
needs with the Ambassador at a meeting held November 20.  The 
Minister emphasized ongoing difficulties with implementation of her 
program due to lack of funding and the difficulties with human 
rights abuses in prisons.  She also discussed the Mamadou Sylla 
embezzlement case. END SUMMARY. 
 
¶2.  (SBU) On November 20, the Ambassador and Econoff met with 
Minister of Justice, Mme. Paulette Kourouma.  The purpose of the 
courtesy call was to stress issues of importance to the United 
States, and to convey support for her ongoing effort to improve the 
Guinean justice system.   The discussions were cordial with the 
Minister repeatedly emphasizing her ministry's needs.  However, her 
comments were somewhat stilted perhaps due to the presence of lower 
ranking members of the Ministry of Justice.  In any event, the 
Minister seemed reticent to discuss non-budgetary issues, such as 
the court case against Conte crony, Mamadou Sylla.  The other 
attendees to the meeting included, Secretary General, Mr. Sekou 
Keita, 
Inspector General, Mr. Mouhamed Saed Haydara, Public Prosecutor, Mr. 
Yves Alphonse Aboly, and National Director of Prison Administration, 
Mr. Nabi Youssouf Sylla. 
 
 
 
---------------------------------------- 
DESPERATE FOR RESOURCES 
---------------------------------------- 
 
¶3.  (SBU) The Minister was eager to discuss Guinea's substantial 
challenges to an effective justice system.  She freely admitted that 
ministry needs assistance in every sense possible.  As an example, 
she stated that the Ministry does not have its own official vehicles 
for the transport of prisoners from the jail to court; therefore, 
officials must rent cars with their own money in order to transport 
prisoners.  Much as in her earlier meeting with Poloff, (reftel), 
Mme. Kourouma detailed a long list of ministry needs: vehicles, 
computers, solar panels, and new judicial robes.  She also 
complained that the current budget for the Ministry of Justice was 
but 0.5% of government spending.  She compared that with the USD 900 
million that the State of New York pays just for its prison system. 
(NOTE: The proposed 2008 Budget increases the Ministry of Justice 
budget by 31%, to approximately USD 2.1 million; however, this is 
less than 0.3% of total 2008 proposed government spending.  END 
NOTE.) 
 
¶4.  (SBU) Minister Kourouma reiterated her key program priorities 
(reftel): hiring of additional judges, increasing the Ministry's 
overall budget and individual salaries, improving prison conditions, 
pushing the National Commission of Investigation forward, and the 
Children's Code.  She informed the Ambassador that the proposed 
Children's Code has been submitted to the National Assembly, as well 
as proposed laws on money laundering and terrorism.  The Minister 
estimated about USD 500,000 is needed to start the Commission of 
Investigation into human rights abuses committed during the 
January/February strikes, which she asked the U.S. to provide. 
 
-------------- 
CHEAP JUSTICE 
------------- 
 
¶5.  (SBU) With respect to judges' salaries, the Minister stated that 
the average salary is currently approximately USD 140 per month. 
She alleged that this low salary is behind many corruption 
complaints, and that she hoped to increase the salary to USD 500 per 
month.  She also stated that 90 judges were currently undergoing a 
workshop in ethics. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
HUMAN RIGHTS TRAINING FOR PRISON GUARDS 
--------------------------------------- 
 
¶6.  (SBU) Minister Kourouma noted the weak protection of human 
rights in Guinea's prisons, but said that the main cause is that all 
guards are not paid by her Ministry. She alleged that the Ministry 
has little control over the behavior of the unofficial 'volunteers' 
who are paid directly by the prison directors to augment the 
official guards.  Nevertheless, she asserted that human rights 
training was urgently needed.  The Minister also said that she 
wanted 600 new prison guards to be trained, without specifying who 
would pay for the new guards. 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
MAMADOU SYLLA: CRIMINAL OR CIVIL PROSECUTION? 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶7.  (SBU) The Minister of Justice was noticeably less forthcoming 
when the Ambassador asked about the current status of the legal 
proceedings against Conte crony, Mamadou Sylla.  In an earlier 
 
CONAKRY 00001264  002 OF 002 
 
 
meeting with Poloff (reftel), the Minister had expressed her desire 
to follow through on the embezzlement case.  However, in her meeting 
with the Ambassador, she alleged that Mr. Sylla should not be 
subject to criminal penalties, and that at most this was a business 
dispute, which at worst meant a fine of some type. 
 
¶8.  (SBU) Mme. Kourouma stated that the only pressure she is getting 
regarding Mr. Sylla's case is from the public.  She asserted that no 
one in the government is pressuring her, but instead, it is the 
public who is demanding prison time for the self-described 'richest 
man' in Guinea.  The Minister reminded the Ambassador that Mr. Sylla 
is a friend of President Conte, and then she made a fleeting 
reference to undisclosed 'technical problems' and errors in the file 
that are slowing down the case against Mr. Sylla. 
 
¶9.  (SBU) COMMENT.  Minister Kourouma's comments seemed to be 
constrained in the presence of co-workers who are holdovers from 
previous governments and not part of the new reform government.  Her 
handling of the Mamadou Sylla case is of concern as it appears she 
may be backing off on prosecution of the embezzlement charges. 
Given the public perception of Mr. Sylla as a symbol of corruption 
in Guinea, any special treatment could spark public ire, even civil 
unrest.  Meanwhile, government officials say they are moving forward 
on the Commission of Investigation yet continue to plead for donor 
resources despite having received funds from the EU and UNDP in 
excess of 250,000 USD, suggesting a lack of will rather than funds 
as a principal constraint. 
 
 
CARTER