Guinean Colonel Charged for 2009 Massacre of Pro-Democracy Protestors
February 16, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
Nearly two and a half years after the brutal September 2009 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Conakry, Guinea, charges have been brought against a senior member of the former military junta. AFP reported that Colonel Tiégboro Camara, who served the junta as the minister in charge of fighting drug-trafficking and organized crime, appeared before a panel on February 8 and has denied all charges brought against him. Lieutenant Aboubacar Sidiki Diakité, former head of the Presidential Guard, has also been charged, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported.
During the September 2009 crackdown, 50,000 Guineans gathered peacefully at the Conakry stadium to protest the rule of the military junta led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who came to power in 2008, following the death of longtime ruler Lansana Conté. BBC reported that security forces raided the stadium, killing approximately 150 protestors and raping 100 women. The massacre brought international attention to the regime, forcing Moussa Dadis Camara into exile and precipitating the 2010 election of opposition leader Alpha Condé.
In 2009, HRW released a report that stated the actions committed by the security forces “very likely constituted crimes against humanity.” The United Nations’ report on the crackdown provided similar conclusions. Tiégboro Camara was named in both reports “as among those most responsible for the serious crimes committed.” The International Criminal Court (ICC) appointed three Guinean magistrates to investigate the massacre, and by May 2010 the panel had interviewed 200 people. HRW named “the absence of a witness protection program, inadequate material resources for the judiciary, and antiquated penal codes” as “key challenges” for the investigation. The ICC stressed the importance of trials against those involved in the massacre. “Ensuring justice for the 2009 victims and their families would help break the cycle of violence, fear, and impunity that has blighted the lives and hopes of so many Guineans for so many years,” senior West Africa researcher Corinne Dufka stated.
Democracy Digest interpreted the charges as a sign that Guinean democracy was “fragile but improving.” National Endowment for Democracy Program Officer Dominique Dieudonné emphasized issues of “security sector reform, judicial corruption, and accountability for human rights violations,” expressing that the oversight of civil society is necessary in order to ensure sustainable democracy in Guinea. HRW’s World Report 2012 cited President Condé’s use of security forces “for partisan ends” and the “insufficient infrastructure and resources” of the judiciary as challenges that must be addressed in order to deal with accountability for human rights violations.
Since Guinea’s return to civilian rule, the country has made some progress in addressing human rights violations. According to HRW, the implementation of the 2010 Guinean constitution has allowed for the creation of an independent National Human Rights Commission and a presidential decree established a reconciliation commission. However, HRW also cites “inadequate consultation with civil society about the mandate, composition, or powers of the commission.” The commission, which stresses reconciliation rather than truth or justice, has encountered criticism from some human rights advocates. Foromo Frederic Loua, president of domestic NGO Mêmes Droites pour Tous (Human Rights for All), expressed his fear that an emphasis on reconciliation could stop the progress made so far in bringing violators to justice. Loua warned that politicians may press for amnesty in favor of “calm and order” because “it’s difficult to talk about reconciliation while at the same time having people charged or convicted.”
For previous news on Guinea, please see:
Guinean President Attacked; High-Ranking Officers Detained
AFP - Top Guinean Soldier Charged over 2009 Massacre: Ministry
BBC - Guinea Stadium Massacre: Col Tiegboro Camara Charged
Democracy Digest - Justice vs Reconciliation in Guinea?
Human Rights Watch – Guinea: Progress in Massacre Probe
Human Rights Watch – World Report 2012 Chapter: Guinea