Moussa Dadis Camara in Guinea: a chance for the Guinean justice to progress in the case of 28 September 2009 massacre

As the former head of the Guinean State arrives in Guinea, our organisations express concern about the progress of the ongoing criminal investigation into the events of 28 September 2009. WE call on Guinean judicial and political authorities to ensure an independent and effective investigation and the holding of a fair trial within a reasonable time. The hearing of Mr. Camara by investigating magistrates would mark a strong and necessary signal in that regard.

The former head of the military junta in power in Guinea between 23 December 2008 and 3 December 2009 must go to Nzérékoré, an administrative centre of the Guinea Forest Region, to attend the funeral of his recently deceased mother. This is the first time that Mr. Camara will visit Guinea since his departure for Morocco and his settling in Burkina Faso. His departure was prompted by an assassination attempt in 2009, shortly after the events of 28 September, in which at least the deaths of 157 people were killed when the military opened fire on demonstrators.

On 1 February 2010 a judicial inquiry was opened by the Attorney General on the crimes committed in Conakry on 28 September and the following days. The three magistrates in charge of the investigation have heard more than 300 victims, but they have charged or interviewed only a few perpetrators. These include Colonel Moussa Tiegboro Camara, indicted on 1 February 2012 but still in office, or Colonel Abdoulaye Cherif Diaby, former health minister of the junta, indicted on 13 September 2012.

Judges tried to question Moussa Dadis Camara on the events of 28 September on several occasion. A first international letter rogatory was issued on 5 April 2011. Unanswered, it was followed by a second one made in early 2013, which has so far been unsuccessful too.

While Moussa Dadis Camara has not been formally charged by the Guinean justice system to date, the international Commission of inquiry on Guinea however stated in its report issued in December 2009 that "there is sufficient reason to presume a direct criminal responsibility or command responsibility of President Moussa Dadis Camara for the events that occurred in the context of the attack and the following days."

Mr. Camara must be heard by investigating judges to contribute to the establishment of the truth surrounding the massacre of 28 September.

"If rogatory commissions have not been successful so far, the Guinean justice could use the presence of Moussa Dadis Camara in Guinea to ask him the questions that had been addressed when he was staying in Ouagadougou" said Mr. Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President and member of the group of lawyers defending the victims of 28 September.

"We respect the mourning of Dadis Camara and his ability to attend his mother’s funeral and to gather with his kins. We simply call upon the justice system to pursue its work, so that the truth can finally be revealed known and those responsible held to account. We too have experienced bereavement but many of us have not been able to bury our loved ones" said the father of a victim who disappeared at Conakry stadium on 28 September and was never found.

Our organisations call Guinean political and judicial authorities to take all necessary measures for the proper conduct of the judicial process and to reaffirm their commitment to ensure that violatiors of human rights in Guinea will be brought to justice.

"We do not want to burden the investigation made by Guinean judicial system which is complex and unprecedented because of its scope and the number of authors and civil parties involved. Indeed over-burddening this process could be counterproductive and lead to a botched procedure that would not satisfy anyone. But the investigation must significantly and continuously progress, to avoid disappointing victims who are expecting to see justice done and fight against impunity in Guinea realised – a crucial challenge in the establishment of the rule of law" said Thierno Sow, OGDH President.

Our organisations also recall that the situation in Guinea is under a preliminary analysis by the International Criminal Court, opened by the Prosecutor on 15 October 2009. According to the principle of complementarity enshrined in the Rome Statute, the Office of the Prosecutor may decide to open an investigation if the inquiry shows a lack of willingness or ability on the part of the Guinean justice system to try the main perpetrators of the most serious crimes committed in this country.

Background:

Moussa Dadis Camara came to power by a military coup shortly after the death of Lansana Conte. Having pledged to hold presidential elections in which he would not participate, Mr. Camara eventually revealed his intention to run, triggering a massive mobilisation of civil society and opposition political parties.

Thus, on 28 September 2009, thousands of people of all political affiliations and from many civil society organisations moved together towards Conakry’s stadium to peacefully protest against Camara’s potential candidacy. Once demonstrators reached the stadium, elements of Guinean security forces and particularly the red berets of the Presidential Guard entered the stadium and opened fire on the crowd. According to a report by the United Nations International Commission of Inquiry, these events at least 157 people, the bodies of some of whom yet remain to be found . Over one hundred women were raped, hundreds of people injured and dozens of shops looted by the security forces during the violence.

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