Guinea: the fight against corruption must respect the right to a fair trial

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John Wessels / AFP

Conakry, Paris — While the Court of Repression of Economic and Financial Offences (CRIEF) has launched several legal actions in recent weeks, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Guinean Organisation for the Defence of Human and Citizen Rights (OGDH), Mêmes droits pour tous (MDT) and the Association of Victims, Relatives and Friends of 28 September 2009 (AVIPA) remind the Guinean authorities of their commitment to take concrete measures to combat impunity for the most serious crimes.

Amongst these, our organisations insist on the urgent need to accelerate preparations for the rapid organisation of the 28 September 2009 trial, announced to open by the end of March 2022.

On 2 December 2021, Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, President of the transition and Chairman of the National Committee of the Rally for Development (CNRD), created by ordinance a Court of Repression of Economic and Financial Offences (CRIEF) to fight against embezzlement of public funds and economic crimes. Since the beginning of 2022, the CRIEF has made several announcements regarding the opening of several judicial investigations. On 23 February, Souleymane Traoré, former director of the Road Maintenance Fund (Fonds d’entretien routier - FER), was charged with embezzlement of public funds and placed under a detention order. On 22 February, the CRIEF charged Ismaël Dioubaté, former Minister of Budget and Tibou Camara, former Minister of Industry and spokesperson for the government of Alpha Condé, for "embezzlement and complicity in embezzlement of public funds" in the so-called Nabayagate case.

In recent weeks, the CRIEF has also accelerated the campaign to recover buildings in the public domain, notably by targeting the properties of Cellou Dalein Diallo, president of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) and Sidya Touré, president of the Union of Republican Forces (UFR). The two opposition leaders were ordered to leave their respective homes on 28 February 2022, and both have taken legal action to challenge these decisions.

While welcoming the initiative launched to advance the fight against corruption and the cleaning up of public finances in Guinea, FIDH and its member organisations and partners in Guinea call on the Guinean authorities to guarantee the right to a fair and equitable trial, in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which have been ratified by the Guinean state.

"The fight against corruption and illicit acquisition of wealth is legitimate and essential, not only to combat poor governance but also to ensure transparency in public affairs and thus contribute to restoring a bond of trust between the people and the Guinean authorities. Such results require a fair trial that respect the rights of the defence," said Drissa Traoré, lawyer and FIDH secretary general.

The fight against corruption must not be at the expense of the fight against impunity

Our organisations would like to remind the Guinean authorities of the commitments made to fight against impunity for serious human rights violations. In particular, the statements made by the authorities during a visit by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to Conakry in November 2021, announcing the organisation of the 28 September trial by the end of March 2022, had raised many hopes that the victims’ demands for justice would finally be met, more than 12 years after the events. Following the latest discussions of the steering committee in charge of organising the trial, which met in February 2022, it seems that the opening date of the trial has been postponed once again, for logistical reasons linked in particular to a change of decision on the place where the trial is to be held and on the work required to fit out the new premises identified.

"The challenges surrounding the organisation of the 28 September trial are considerable, as are the expectations of the victims we represent who, more than 12 years later, continue to hold out hope that this emblematic trial will begin. It is essential that the authorities specify a date for this trial as well as a schedule providing details of the various stages," said Alpha Amadou DS Bah, OGDH vice president and coordinator of the pool of victims’ lawyers in the case of the 28 September 2009 massacre.

Our organisations recall that the investigation in the September 28 case was closed in November 2017 with the referral of 14 alleged perpetrators, including former junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara, before the Dixinn Court. Since then, the nearly 450 victims who are civil parties in the case have been waiting for the trial to begin. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been conducting a preliminary examination of the situation and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the context of the 28 September 2009 massacre at the Conakry stadium in Guinea for over 12 years.

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