Guinea: FIDH and OGDH reach a new stage in the fight against impunity / Registration of two civil actions on serious human rights violations committed in 2007 and 2010
PARIS, France, May 23, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — During a mission to Conakry, FIDH and its member organisation, OGDH, instituted civil proceedings before the Guinean courts in two cases of serious human rights violations perpetrated in 2007 and 2010. Our organisations demand that the justice system be brought to bear on these crimes to hold their authors to account before law and accord victims due compensation; we call on the authorities to support this legal action.
On 18 May 2012, FIDH and OGDH filed two complaints and a claim for criminal indemnification before the Guinean courts on behalf of 65 victims of serious human rights violations perpetrated by Guinean state actors. These two separate legal actions seek to establish the facts and lines of responsibility behind the political violence that erupted during peaceful demonstrations in January and February 2007, and in October 2010 when 15 persons were arbitrarily arrested, detained and tortured in Conakry. The proceedings relating to the events of October 2010 directly implicate a number of political and military officials then in office. These officials include in particular, the current Governor of Conakry and the Commandant of the Guinean Army, Mr. Sékou Resco Camara; former Chief of Defense Staff for the transitional regime, General Nouhou Thiam; and the former Chief of the Presidential Guard to the transitional regime, Commandant Sidiki Camara, known as De Gaulle.
“The filing of these two complaints shows civil society’s contribution to broadening the fight against impunity in Guinea to situations beyond the Conakry Stadium Massacre of 28 September 2009?, said Mr. Patrick Baudoin, FIDH Honorary President, in charge of FIDH’s Legal Action Group (LAG).
As Guinea has begun to forge a path towards the establishment of a Welfare State with a just and fair judicial system, it has taken several important steps. These notably include the indictment of Lieutenant-Colonel Moussa Tiegboro Camara for his suspected role in the 28 September 2009 Conakry Stadium massacre (see: http://www.fidh.org/Guinea-Major-breakthrough-in-the), and the imposition of a symbolic fine on Commandant Sékou Resco Camara on 30 November 2011, for ordering the arbitrary detention of five human rights defenders (see: http://www.fidh.org/Une-decision-judiciaire-contre-l).
“These legal actions would not have been possible only a little time ago”, said OGDH President, Thierno Maadjou Sow. “There is now a need for an independent judicial investigation in order to reach a fair and equitable judgment, reinstate victims’ rights and get Guinea moving forward”.
In launching a preliminary inquiry on 15 October 2009 into the events of 28 September 2009, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has considered the general situation in Guinea. The ICC’s jurisdiction remains competent over all international crimes perpetrated on the territory since the Rome Statute’s entry into force on 1 July 2002.
FIDH and OGDH are also plaintiffs in proceedings raised in respect of the events that took place on 28 September 2009. “In the 28 September 2009 case, as well as the 2007 and 2010 cases, we chose to seize the Guinean judicial system precisely because it’s role is to reduce impunity in the first place. However, if this national justice lacks the will, or the ability to adjudicate these crimes, then international justice will have to step in” declared FIDH President, Ms. Souhayr Belhassen.
Under the different regimes in power before the democratic transition, the whole of Guinean civil society was severely repressed, paying a heavy toll for its fight for change and democracy. “We want to believe that the start of these procedures will afford forgotten victims’ voice to be heard. We hope that it will contribute to the establishment of trust in a judicial institution that has for so long served only the powerful” said Aziz Diop, Guinean Civil Society Organisations’ National Council Executive Secretary (CNOSCG), “because our country needs truth, justice and reconciliation”.
Regarding the reconciliation process, a provisional reflection commission, was created by President Alpha Condé in August 2011, to advise on a process for establishing a national truth, justice and reconciliation Commission. We are of the view that such a Commission should be able to hear the victims of all of Guinea’s successive regimes: those of Camp Boiro, those of the 1985, 2007 and 2009 repressions, and those of other severe human rights violations perpetrated in Guinea. The Commission will also have to carry out investigations, public and private hearings, and suggest measures for the compensation and indemnification of the victims.
Our organisations consider that the establishment of such a commission will enable Guinea to enter a new phase beyond its past of political and state violence.
In January and February 2007, civil society and the trade unions led significant peaceful demonstrations throughout the country in favour of purchasing power and a Welfare State. These demonstrations were severely repressed by the security forces of the waning power of Lansana Conté; the death toll is estimated to be in the hundreds, while hundreds of other victims were subjected to injury, rape and looting. These serious human rights violations were not the subject of any conclusive official investigation, nor of any judicial inquiry that would have shed some light on one of Guinea’s most violent political repressions in recent years.
According to information passed to those working in the justice sector, in October 2010, members of the presidential guard of the then acting President of the transitional government, arrested and arbitrarily detained several individuals. These persons suffered torture in the presence and upon the instructions of Mr. Sékou Resco Camara, General Nouhou Thiam and Commandant Sidiki Camara, alias De Gaulle. These crimes were perpetrated by people in charge of public authority and occurred during the second round presidential campaign, though were not directly related to it. Nevertheless, these violations remain symptomatic of the arbitrary practices that are the legacy of half a century of political violence and impunity in Guinea.
International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)
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