Guinea: Indictment of former head of the presidential guard in the case of the October 2010 tortures.

Press release
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FIDH and OGDH, its member organisation in Guinea, announce the indictment of the former head of the presidential guard, Commander Aboubacar Sidiki Camara, also known as "De Gaulle", for his alleged responsibility behind acts of torture committed in Conakry in October 2010. FIDH and OGDH who both led to the initiation of the proceedings by filing as plaintiffs in the case along with 17 victims, welcome this major step forward in the judicial process, which suggests that a trial is forthcoming.

On 31 July 2013, the judge in charge of investigating the “October 2010 torture case" formally charged and placed in custody Commander Aboubacar Sidiki Camara, known as "De Gaulle," for his suspected role behind acts of torture and inhuman and degrading treatments that took place in October 2010 in an area of Conakry. Commander Camara was the former head of the presidential guard during the transition period led by Sékouba Konaté.

"Justice finally plays its role and makes presumed perpetrators face the consequences of their actions. This needs to be applied to all perpetrators of human rights violations in Guinea, including those who participated in the recent violence in the N’Zérékoré region, and clashes between security forces and protesters during the political marches that have taken place since the beginning of the year. Legal proceedings have been instigated and must be seen through to the end, said Thierno Sow, OGDH President.

On 18 May 2012, FIDH and OGDH, along with 17 victims of torture, filed a complaint against Commander Sékou Resco Camara, General Nouhou Thiam, former Chief of Defence Staff, and Commander Aboubacar Sidiki Camara, former head of the presidential guard. Not long after the filing of the complaint with the Court of First Instance of Dixinn (Conakry II), the Prosecutor opened an investigation on 29 May 2012, for "illegal arrest, forcible confinement, intentional assault and battery, abuse of authority, and crimes and offences committed in the exercise of his functions" recognising the alleged responsibility of Commander Sékou Resco Camara and of General Nouhou Thiam, who were then charged on 14 and 25 February 2013 respectively.

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 were tortured in the presence of, and upon the instructions of, Mr. Sékou Resco Camara, General Nouhou Thiam and Commander Aboubakar Sidiki Camara, alias “De Gaulle”. These crimes were perpetrated by people in charge of public authority and 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.

"This new indictment shows that legal proceedings are moving forward and that the holding of a trial is no longer hypothetical for the victims of political violence in Guinea," said Martin Pradel, lawyer for FIDH’s Legal Action Group (LAG) and representing the victims. "This is the fourth indictment this year of a high official for serious violations of human rights perpetrated in 2009 and 2010. It shows that one cannot commit such acts with impunity," he added.

FIDH and OGDH call on Guinean authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the proper administration of justice and the safety of its members, especially the security of magistrates in charge of investigations into serious human rights violations. This case follows similar indictments, including that of Colonel Claude Pivi, known as "Coplan", current head of presidential security, who was charged on 27 June 2013 for his suspected role in the 28 September 2009 Conakry Stadium massacre.

FIDH and OGDH express their concern about the position currently held by Mr. Pivi and one of his co-defendants, Lieutenant Colonel Thiegboro Camara, who were mandated to restore public order in the Guinean forest after inter-community clashes erupted in the N’Zérékoré region that would have killed a hundred people.

The progress of the judiciary achieved in 2013 by the Guinean judicial system are to be noted, as this year was declared to be the “Year of Justice” by the President, but sending two security officials charged with serious violations of human rights to restore order in the province seems inappropriate, said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. "We therefore ask that they be relieved of their duties until their responsibility in these criminal cases have been made clear, he added.

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