Bachelet urges Guinea to prosecute
Bachelet urges Guinea to prosecute those responsible for massacre ten years ago
GENEVA (28 September 2019) – Guinean authorities should expedite the organization of trials to prosecute those responsible for acts that may amount to serious international crimes committed during the events of 28 September 2009, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Friday.
Saturday 28 September marks the tenth anniversary of the attack by Guinean security and military forces on a peaceful political rally at Conakry Stadium, which resulted in at least 156 people being disappeared or killed, including a number of women who died as a result of violent sexual assaults, according to a UN Commission of Inquiry (CoI).
That CoI established that at least 109 girls and women were victims of sexual violence, including sexual mutilation and sexual slavery; that corpses were buried in mass graves; that demonstrators were tortured; and that authorities modified crime scenes. Their report concluded that there was a "strong presumption that crimes against humanity were committed", as well as serious and reliable evidence of the criminal responsibility of certain individuals.
“Despite the Commission of Inquiry recommending almost a decade ago that the Guinean authorities prosecute those responsible and compensate victims, there has been little tangible progress so far,” the UN Human Rights Chief said. “These long awaited judicial processes -- if and when they actually take place -- should ensure accountability both for the sake of the victims and to enhance rule of law in the country as a whole.”
Bachelet acknowledged that some steps have been taken over the past ten years towards prosecution and organization of trials, as a result of national efforts and the strong engagement of the UN system. However, she pointed out that these efforts have been extremely slow, and have failed to result in actual trials and convictions of those responsible. There is particular concern that a number of senior officials who have been indicted are still in office and have yet to appear for trial. There are also serious concerns surrounding the security of victims and witnesses.
Many victims never received adequate treatment, and continue to suffer from deep trauma as well as stigmatization and rejection by their communities. They have nevertheless persisted in fighting for their right to recognition, justice, truth and reparation.
“Impunity has prevailed for too long in Guinea, and is preventing victims’ scars from healing. Sustainable peace and reconciliation will not be achieved until justice and accountability is upheld,” said Bachelet.