Constitutional Provisions

The Constitution of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, adopted in 1984 and amended through 1996, promotes the observation of human rights standards, given that:

The prevention of crimes, including crimes against the security of the State, can only be done in observance to the rules established by law and with respect for the rights, freedoms and guarantees of citizens.Art. 21(3), National Constitution of Guinea-Bissau (as amended through 1996).

Such rights and guarantees include those recognised in international human rights instruments and cannot be restricted under the Constitution.Art. 29, National Constitution of Guinea-Bissau (as amended through 1996).The Constitution provides that:

1 - The moral and physical integrity of citizens is inviolable.

2 - No one shall be submitted to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.Art. 37, National Constitution of Guinea-Bissau (as amended through 1996).

According to Article 54 of the Constitution:

1. Citizens have the right of peaceful assembly in public areas, according to law.

2. The right of all citizens to demonstrate is recognised, according to law.

The accountability of the national police force in case of violations of those norms is provided for under the civil law:

The State and other public entities are civily liable, jointly with the officials of their organs, personnel or agents, for acts or omissions committed in the performance of their duties and due to their exercise, resulting in the violation of rights, freedoms and guarantees, or any harm caused to others.Art. 29, National Constitution of Guinea-Bissau (as amended through 1996).

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties

1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints Yes
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Signatory
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Signatory

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties

1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights

State Party
1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court Signatory
Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions N/A
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties at Regional Level
Malabo Protocol on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights Signatory

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Police use of force is generally restricted by the principles of necessity and proportionality. 

The law allows firearms to be used in a number of scenarios, such as to confront imminent or ongoing violence directed at the police officer or a third party, or to prevent a “serious and imminent attack on socially beneficial installations whose destruction would cause material injury".Art. 15, 2010 Organic Statute of the Judiciary Police, Presidential Decree 14/2010 of 15 November 2010. 

Use of Force in Custodial Settings

Article 38(1) of the 1993 Criminal Code states that:

No one shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Acts that violate the rights of persons in custody are criminalised, such as where an agent of the state:

a) tortures or treats such a person in a cruel, degrading, or inhuman manner;
b) punishes him or her for an act committed or allegedly committed by him/her or another person;
c) intimidates or intimidates another person; or
d) obtains from him/her or another person confession, testimony, statement or information.Art. 103, 1993 Criminal Code, promulgated by Council of State Decree No. 4/93 of 13 October 1993.

Police Oversight

There is no independent police oversight body in Guinea-Bissau. Internal disciplinary units of the different police services are responsible for investigating complaints of unlawful behaviour. 



United Nations Human Rights Council

Guinea-Bissau was subject to the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review in 2015. Guinea-Bissau's national report acknowledged that "the reform of the defence and security sector is one of the state priorities"."Guinea-Bissau", Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, UN doc. A/HRC/WG.6/21/GNB/1, 9 January 2015, §52.It further observed that:   

The repeated interference of the defence and security forces have contributed to political instability and the deterioration of the security environment, thus constituting a serious obstacle to strengthening the rule of law and the consolidation of peace."Guinea-Bissau", Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, UN doc. A/HRC/WG.6/21/GNB/1, 9 January 2015, §46.

In the UPR Working Group report, the Philippines recommended to Guinea-Bissau that it:

Continue to engage its international and regional development partners for support in the continued implementation of its defence and security sector reform initiatives, and to take initial steps to ensure that law enforcement personnel are provided with appropriate human rights education and training.Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Guinea-Bissau, UN doc. A/HRC/29/12, 13 April 2015, §96.96.


In March 2018, the African Union's Peace and Security Council adopted a decision on the troubled political situation in Guinea-Bissau in which it:

Notes with satisfaction the exemplary Bissau-Guinean defence and security forces’ continued posture of non-interference, which, so far, have refrained from intervening in the political and institutional crisis. Council urges all parties to refrain from actions or statements that could further escalate tensions and incite violence in the country.African Union Peace and Security Council Communiqué, AU doc. PSC/PR/COMM.(DCCLX), 29 March 2018, §5.


Details of prosecutions or civil cases for unlawful use of force by police or prison officers are hard to obtain. 


1984 Constitution (as amended through 1996) (Original Portuguese)

1984 Constitution (as amended through 1996) (Partial English translation)

1993 Penal Code (Portuguese)

2010 Organic Statute of the Judiciary Police (Portuguese)

2010 Disciplinary Regulation of the Judiciary Police

UPR National Report (2015)

UPR Working Group Report (2015)

African Union Peace and Security Council decision on Guinea-Bissau (2018)