Consultations to strengthen the rule of law in Guinea-Bissau

On the basis of Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement between the EU and 76 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the Commission proposed on December 20th to the Member States consultations with Guinea Bissau. Indeed, the Commission is concerned about the situation in Guinea-Bissau in terms of respect for democratic principles and the rule of law and wishes to implement a strategy for ending the crisis. The proposal for consultations will first be examined by the 27 Member States of the European Union prior to implementation.

European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said she had proposed this initiative to the EU Member States because of concerns about the situation with regard to democratic principles and respect for the rule of law. The Commission hopes that consultations will help resolve the situation and so lay solid foundations for strengthened relations between the EU and Guinea-Bissau.

The mutiny on 1 April 2010 and the actions that followed were condemned by the international community, including by the EU through its High Representative/Vice‑President Catherine Ashton, who said that the situation called for a review of the overall engagement of the EU in Guinea-Bissau.

As far as the EU is concerned, the measures that need to be taken in Guinea-Bissau include, in particular, bringing an end to illegal detention and impunity, strengthening civil authority, accepting a possible international stabilisation mission and restarting reforms in the security sector.

If the consultations do not lead to an acceptable solution, appropriate measures may be taken. This could include partial or total suspension of development cooperation, with the exception of humanitarian assistance and direct support to the population. Pending the outcome of consultations, the Commission will take precautionary measures.

In the context of the European Development Fund and the EU budget, EUR 120 million has been allocated to Guinea-Bissau up to 2013. These funds are intended to support the country in strengthening the rule of law and democracy (reform of the administration, the justice system, the security forces, etc.), as well as facilitating the population’s access to basic services, such as water and energy. A third pillar is direct budgetary aid, focusing on macroeconomic stabilisation.

Background

A mutiny by part of the army on 1 April 2010 led to illegal detentions. In addition, individuals linked to the rebellion or suspected of being involved in illegal activities were appointed to high-ranking positions in the armed forces. The mutiny also halted the process of reform in the security sector (police, army, justice system, etc.), which is essential for peace, security and sustainable development in Guinea-Bissau, as well as for the fight against drug smuggling and organised crime.

Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement

Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement states inter alia that, if a Party considers that the other Party has failed to fulfil an obligation stemming from respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, the situation should be examined thoroughly with a view to seeking a solution acceptable to the Parties. To this end, it invites the other Party to hold consultations so that together they can carry out a thorough and constructive examination of the situation, enabling the Party concerned to take measures to remedy the situation.

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