Sonfonia Gendarmerie training college, Conakry, Guinea. Training seminar for Gendarmerie Nationale instructors. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Alpha Oumar Barry
A three-day seminar was organized by the ICRC in association with the high command of the Guinean Gendarmerie Nationale in September 2015. On the agenda were the principles of international humanitarian law and international human rights law as applicable to the work of the security forces. In all, 26 instructors (compared with 25 at the first seminar in 2012) took part in the training, which was held at the Sonfonia Gendarmerie training college in Conakry from 15 to 17 September.
What topics were covered?
Over the three days, the 26 participants were given theoretical and practical training in the provisions of international law governing the use of force and conditions of arrest and detention. They were also informed about the rules to be observed to protect the right to life, human dignity and liberty.
Maxim Gutov, ICRC regional delegate and trainer, explained after the seminar that "the role of members of the security forces is first and foremost to protect people. However, as they may be called on to use force, they need to know the rules and principles that apply in such situations."
Alpha Oumar Barry, ICRC communication officer in Guinea, shared his thoughts about the seminar: "I was impressed by the participants' motivation and the relevance of their questions, particularly about the case studies and the issues raised by them."
Sonfonia Gendarmerie training college, Conakry, Guinea. Yann Bonzon, ICRC head of delegation in Guinea, presents a gendarme with his certificate of attendance. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Kadiatou Baldé
What did the instructors think?
"We've come out of the seminar feeling reassured about our role and aware that the use of force has to be within the limits defined by law, particularly the principles of necessity and proportionality, and we'll make sure our trainee gendarmes understand this," said one participant. "We'll explain to them that it's their individual responsibility to respect the law when they are working in the field," added another.
What about the high command at the Gendarmerie Nationale?
At the seminar's closing ceremony, General Ibrahima Baldé, high commander of the Guinean Gendarmerie Nationale, thanked the ICRC for its ongoing work to train gendarmes and assured Yann Bonzon, ICRC head of delegation in Guinea, that the newly-trained instructors would be deployed in the field to "pass on their knowledge to the staff in every company, brigade and border post before the elections in October 2015."