Guinea / 28 September 2009 massacre: A gendarme arrested and charged with rape, a first time in Guinea

On 30 April 2013, a Guinean gendarme was charged with rape and placed in custody. FIDH and OGDH welcome this decision which is an important step in this case. It is the first judicial act of this kind on a perpetrator of acts of sexual violence, massively committed at Conakry’s stadium on 28 September 2009.

The judicial inquiry into the 28 September 2009 massacre at Conakry’s stadium opened on 1 February 2010. On 30 April 2013, a major advancement was made in the case with the indictment and provisional detention of a gendarme. He, along with two other members of the gendarmerie, is alleged to have raped a woman in the stadium on 28 September 2009.

AFP Report released on 10 May 2013 after this first indictment

For the first time in over three years, I was able to sleep without difficulty. I hope those who did this will understand the seriousness of their actions and that justice will carry through to the end of the legal process so that all women who have suffered the same fate can break the silence and have their rights finally recognised, said the victim, who is assisted by FIDH and OGDH in this case.

On 6 May 2013, the indicted police officer was questioned on the essential facts for several hours by the investigating judges in charge of the case.

There will be a before and an after this indictment. Today, thanks to the courage of a woman who went before the court to tell the judges what she had suffered at the stadium, and to the actions of the group of victims’ lawyers which accompanied her, a strong signal was sent to the authors of these crimes, said Thierno Sow, OGDH President.

According to the report published by the International Commission of Inquiry of the United Nations (which had been established after the events of 28 September 2009) and confirmed by investigations conducted by FIDH and OGDH, at least 109 women were raped at the stadium or in the surrounding areas. Many were subjected to genital mutilation, and some of them were taken by force to military camps or private residences, where they were treated as sexual slaves for several days.

Who would have thought two years ago that the Guinean judiciary might accuse a security force member of the sexual violence which marked the events of 28 September 2009? This is an important step, which can only encourage victims awaiting justice. Three years ago FIDH, and OGDH committed to work alongside victims to pursue justice and we will continue, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.

Our organisations, who are also civil parties in the case, encourage Guinean judicial and political authorities to continue their efforts to fight impunity and to support the magistrates in charge of this case, by ensuring them the best conditions of exercise and of security, and guaranteeing the proper execution of judicial acts undertaken by judges.

«The task of the investigating magistrates is still immense: what happened to the 87 people missing? How did the chain of command work that day? Who were in the group of red berets led by "Toumba" which, according to all witnesses, opened fire at the stadium? asked Mr. Martin Pradel, one of FIDH and victims’ lawyers in this case.

Bringing all those responsible for crimes committed on 28 September 2009 to trial is a crucial element for the establishment of truth and justice for the victims, but also in the fight against political violence, which is a recurrent scourge in Guinea.

Our organisations remain very concerned about the situation prevailing in Conakry. There are only a few weeks before the legislative elections scheduled for 30 June, and there has been a resurgence of violence during the recent demonstrations. Several demonstrators have been shot dead, and security forces have been violently attacked by protesters. Two security forces’ members were left for dead on 2 May 2012, one of whom has died as a result his wounds.

Violence committed during and in the margins of these demonstrations should lead to judicial investigations, regardless of the author of the crime. In order to avoid compromising the process of democratic transition that began in 2010, and in order to continue the establishment of the rule of law in Guinea, all political actors must find a framework that favours dialogue over confrontation. Regularly held free, transparent and peaceful elections are necessary.

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