Guinea: Victims seek justice 7 years after 2007 crackdown

On the seventh anniversary of the bloody crackdown on protests organised by the Guinean trade union confederations in January and February 2007, FIDH and OGDH, having already initiated the judicial proceeding and supporting victims to seek justice in Guinean courts, now call for the intensification of investigations and the prosecution of those deemed responsible for the wave of repression that left several hundred dead throughout Guinea.

On January 22, 2007, in the centre of Conakry, red berets of the Presidential guard of Lansana Conté, accompanied by members of the security forces, opened fire on peaceful civilians, causing dozens of deaths and wounding hundreds of others. The crackdown continued until mid -February, killing hundreds of people, causing thousands of injuries, as well as considerable property damage in the main cities of the country.

For several years, these serious violations of human rights were not subject to any form of criminal investigation. However, in May 2012, OGDH and FIDH decided to pursue legal action and bring a civil case on behalf of 50 victims. This action led to the opening of a judicial inquiry, and two investigating judges now have responsibility for pursuing this nationwide case.

The legal action and launching of the inquiry have given us, victims, hope. Now we wish to see justice run its course and hold those responsible accountable - the ones who killed my son and all those who participated in these crimes " said M.C., parent of a victim of the 22 January 2007 events.

Since the opening of the judicial inquiry, the magistrates have been able to hear testimony from most of the victims participating in the civil case. However, much work remains to be done in this case, both to identify and prosecute responsible parties, and to hear victims and witnesses throughout the country.

In this case, the hard part is just beginning ; the inquiry will only succeed if it is extended to all cities where crimes have been committed. This will require exceptional support for the investigating magistrates from the Guinean authorities, major investigative resources, and a clear commitment to the fight against impunity ", said Drissa Traoré, FIDH Vice-President.

To address these challenges, our organisations will expand their legal support in 2014 to ensure that the victims of these events, wherever they are located, can participate in the proceedings and have the assistance of Guinean and international lawyers.

Today, Guinea turns a page in its history with the introduction of a national assembly that marks the long-awaited end of its political transition. More than ever, the Guinean State must face its past, as painful as it is, and meet its citizens’ expectations of justice. This is the sine qua non condition for the establishment of a genuine rule of law, where impunity and political violence will no longer have their place ", said Thierno Sow, OGDH President.

FIDH and OGDH recall that Guinea, which ratified the Rome Statute on 14 July 2003, has been the subject of a preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 14 October 2009. Consequently, the ICC has jurisdiction over crimes covered by the Rome Statute, committed in Guinea or by nationals of Guinea, since 1 October 2003. During various meetings with our organisations, ICC representatives stated that the crimes committed in 2007 came under its jurisdiction and that, in the absence of judicial action by the Guinean authorities, it could look into this matter.

Lastly, our organisations urge the new Guinean government to make justice one of its top priorities – to not allow the serious crimes committed since 2007 to go unpunished, in particular those of 28 September 2009, Zogota in 2012, Nzérékoré in 2013, and more generally, violations of human rights committed at various political events during the electoral campaigns of 2010 and 2013.

Background : On 10 January 2007, the Guinean trade union federations launched a general strike to protest against the high cost of living, poor governance, and lack of democracy that characterised the regime of General Lansana Conté, who was in power from 1984 until his death in 2008. Crackdown by the army and police forces on peaceful union protests throughout the months of January and February 2007 claimed hundreds of lives.

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