FIDH and its member organisation in Guinea, the Guinean Organisation for Human and Citizens’ Rights (OGDH), welcome this important step forward in the judicial investigation into acts of torture committed in Conakry in October 2010. The investigation was opened as a result of a civil complaint filed by FIDH and OGDH, alongside 17 victims on 18 May 2012 against Commandant Sékou Resco CAMARA, General Nouhou THIAM, former Chief of the Defence staff, and Commandant Aboubacar Sidiki alias De Gaulle CAMARA, former Chief of the Presidential guard.
“The indictment of the Governor of Conakry for very serious crimes sends an important signal from the Guinean judiciary to underline its commitment to fight impunity”, said Ms. Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “The opening of a judicial inquiry in May 2012, and the hearing of all civil parties, has offered victims the hope of seeing justice done. The indictment of a senior official for those crimes is a new stage in this pursuit of justice”, she added.
As a result of the complaint filed by FIDH and OGDH to Dixinn’s (Conakry II) Court of First Instance, the state attorney opened an investigation on 29 May 2012 for “unlawful arrest, kidnapping, assault and battery, abuse of authority, and offences committed in performing his duties.” According to information provided to the Court, in October 2010, members of the presidential guard close to the acting President of the transitional government allegedly and arbitrary arrested and detained several individuals. They were then reportedly tortured, in the presence and upon the instructions of, Commandants Sékou Resco Camara and Aboubacar Sidiki alias De gaulle Camara, and General Nouhou Thiam.
“As far as I can remember as a Human Rights defender in Guinea, it is the first time such serious crimes committed by high military officials have been investigated so quickly. It is very good news, which carries a clear message : nobody is above the law, not even security forces”, said Mr. Thierno Maadjou Sow, OGDH President.
According to Mr. Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President, in charge of FIDH Legal Action Group (LAG), “the indictment of Mr. Camara, who is still presumed innocent and who shall be able to defend himself in this procedure, is only a first step : those others who are responsible must be identified, including at lower levels of the hierarchy, in order to end the inquiry and hold a fair and equitable trial within a reasonable time.”
However, due to the position he holds – Mr. Camara has a large escort composed of members of the Autonomous Battalion of Airborne Troops (BATA), – and to his previous conviction on 30 November 2011 by Kaloum’s Court of First Instance (Conakry I) for “trespassing of administrative authority on judicial authority”, our organisations are concerned with risk of interference with judicial proceedings. Thus, FIDH and OGDH call upon the Guinean government to take all necessary steps to ensure the proper exercise and serenity of the judiciary, and security of the actors involved, in particular the security of the magistrate in charge of investigating this case.
By making 2013 the year of justice, the Guinean Head of State made a strong commitment towards the establishment of the rule of law and the respect of fundamental rights in Guinea. This judicial progress, as well as recent Guinean government’s statements, in particular those issued by the Minister of Human Rights and Public Liberties which denounced the practice of torture and inhumane treatment, notably in detention facilities, are proof of the will to ensure the respect of the rule of law.
Further, FIDH and OGDH are also committed alongside several victims in two other legal cases concerning the 28 September 2009 Conakry stadium massacre, and the crushing of the demonstrations of January and February 2007. Our organisations call for similar steps to be taken in those two other procedures in order to pursue this effort to justice, to end the culture of impunity, and to fully engage in the national reconciliation process.