The 60-year report card on Guinean independence gets a failing grade when it comes to the relationship between the military and government and between the security forces and citizens. The 2010 security sector evaluation conducted with support from ECOWAS, the African Union and the UN painted a troubling picture (including for the justice system). That’s why reforming the justice and security sectors has been a top priority for the President as part of a democratic renewal. In 2011, exchanges between reform stakeholders and civil society led to 317 recommendations and a reform roadmap. Significant initiatives in justice, defense and security have followed. Since these reforms have an immediate impact on citizens’ lives, their perceptions are crucial for assessing progress. That’s why this survey of public perceptions of the reforms was jointly initiated by UNDP and OHCHR with PBF funding.

The survey was conducted by Stat View International using both quantitative (individual questionnaire interviews) and qualitative (in-depth interviews and focus groups) methods. The quantitative portion surveyed 1,044 respondents selected through random sampling to represent the adult population aged 18+ with a 5% margin of error. The qualitative component involved 25 in-depth interviews with reform leaders and civil society including media. 18 focus groups engaged 180 adult men and women, mostly from civil society organizations and associations.

According to the survey, only a third of respondents have a positive opinion of Guinea’s justice system (34%). The highest percentage is in rural areas (38%) followed by interior cities (35%) and Conakry (29%). Over half (52% and 57% respectively) said « The judiciary is not independent from political powers » and « The judgments rendered are unfair. » Only a third said they trust judicial personnel. 98% believe court access depends on income level – 98% said courts are accessible for high-income citizens versus 45% middle-income and 15% low-income.

Just one in five said they currently have the financial means to defend and assert their rights in court (21%). The main obstacles are court fees (44%) and case preparation costs (34%). Overall, 29% expressed trust in the justice system – 32% of men vs. 26% of women. The percentage is higher in rural areas (34%) and interior cities (29%) than Conakry (21%). The same 29% are satisfied with the justice system. Over three-quarters believe corruption in justice is frequent or very frequent (76%) – highest in Conakry at 89%.

Meanwhile, 28% of Guineans are unaware of defense and security sector reforms. Those who know appreciate the recruitment, training and deployment of forest rangers, demilitarizing the capital Conakry, resuming police training, strengthening discipline in the forces (77%), and retiring 3,928 soldiers enlisted 1952-1975.

In Conakry, resuming police training is most appreciated (90%). In interior cities, demilitarizing Conakry tops the list (80%), while rural areas appreciate recruiting and training forest rangers (86%) most.

Over two-thirds feel their neighborhood is secure (68%). However, about one in four said they often or very often feel personally unsafe in their neighborhood/district (23%) – due to alcohol/drug issues, theft, vandalism and land disputes.

Over half are very satisfied/satisfied with defense and security services overall (53%) – 55% of men vs. 50% of women. Satisfaction is highest in interior cities (55%) and rural areas (54%), lower in Conakry (47%). The most satisfactory forces are the Armed Forces (68%), Forest Rangers (54%) and Gendarmerie (53%). Most Guineans trust these three forces and have a positive view of security sector changes since 2010 – more so among men (53% vs. 48% of women) and interior cities (53%) and rural areas (50%) compared to Conakry (45%).

Over a third don’t know detention conditions in their prefecture/municipality (35%). Still, 20% have a positive opinion – higher in interior cities (25%) and rural areas (21%) vs. Conakry (12%), and among men (24%) vs. women (17%).

As for corruption in security, 71% believe it’s frequent or very frequent – highest in Conakry (86%), then interior cities (69%) and rural areas (68%).