During her meeting with President Alpha Condé, Special Representative Patten raised issues relating to the establishment of the Steering Committee and a time frame for the organization of the trials
NEW YORK, United States of America, April 4, 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Almost nine years after the events at the Conakry national stadium on 28 September 2009, which left at least 156 persons killed or disappeared and at least 109 victims of sexual violence, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, conducted a visit to Guinea from 26 to 28 March 2018, in the framework of the Joint Communiqué signed between the United Nations and the Government of Guinea in November 2011 to fight impunity for sexual violence.
The visit took place after the Minister of Justice’s announcement, in December 2017, of the conclusion of the investigation phase of the crimes of 28 September 2009, which had started in February 2010, and the establishment of a Steering Committee to organize the trials. In a context marked by post-electoral tension and social instability, Minister of Justice Cheick Sako discussed with Special Representative Patten the political, financial and logistical dimensions related to the organization of the trials, as well as the establishment of the Steering Committee, which is awaiting the approval of the President.
The Special Representative also met with survivors of sexual violence of the 28 September 2009 events, civil society organizations and victims’ lawyers. The survivors, who have undergone the worst forms of sexual brutality and continue to suffer from deep medical and psychological trauma, as well as from stigmatization and rejection by their families and communities, continue to claim justice. While over the past years the Government has repeatedly announced the imminent start of the trials, including before the Human Rights Council in 2017, concerns were expressed regarding the political will to bring the perpetrators to justice. In addition to the delay in establishing the Steering Committee, several issues of concern were raised, including the current security challenges faced by some victims; the need to ensure that indicted senior level officials, more especially former President Moussa Dadis Camara, appear for trial; as well as the need to remove from government or public positions those individuals who face charges for those crimes. Concerns were also expressed regarding the dismissal of criminal charges against Mathurin Bangoura, Governor of Conakry, and Bienvenue Lamah, Captain of the Gendarmerie.
During her meeting with President Alpha Condé, Special Representative Patten raised issues relating to the establishment of the Steering Committee and a time frame for the organization of the trials. However, the President’s position was that he was concerned not only about the victims of the 28 September 2009 events but also about the victims of all the massacres that Guinea has suffered in its recent history. On the question of justice for the victims of the 28 September 2009 events following the completion of the investigation phase by a Guinean panel of judges, the President stressed that the matter is entirely in the hands of the Ministry of Justice and that justice will follow its course, without any political interference from his part. The President further gave assurances that he will provide all the necessary means to the Ministry of Justice to carry out its work.
In all her meetings with different stakeholders, Special Representative Patten reiterated that the conclusion of the investigation of the 28 September 2009 events is a major achievement which marks a moment of truth. “While recognizing that Guinea’s recent history has been impacted by major human rights violations, all of which deserve justice, the organization of trials for the 28 September 2009 events without further delay will pave the way towards a culture of deterrence for human rights violations in Guinea” stated the Special Representative.
The Special Representative emphasizes the right of victims to obtain justice within a reasonable time and calls on the Minister of Justice to promptly establish the Steering Committee to organize the trials without undue delay, to ensure that all indicted persons, including former President Dadis Camara, appear for trial, and to promptly remove from office those indicted senior level individuals who currently hold official functions. “Today the credibility of the Guinean institutions and the sincerity of the Government vis-à-vis its citizens, are at stake. I reiterate my call to the Government of Guinea to show leadership and responsibility by ensuring that trials start as soon as possible, so that victims obtain justice and perpetrators are held accountable. My Office and the United Nations stand ready to continue to support these efforts”.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of United Nations (UN).