The Int’l. Criminal Court, Guinea, and the Sept. 28, 2009, State-Sponsored Massacre: Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Press Statement

On the first anniversary of the September 28, 2009, massacre of opposition demonstrators, primarily of Peul ethnicity, by Guinean state security forces, protesters gather near the United Nations in New York  to demand justice for the victims.

In a statement received by, the Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Gambian native, Fatou Bensouda, came to Guinea last week to express her determination to bring justice to victims of the events of September 28, 2009.

In her capacity as Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Bensouda (soon to become head prosecutor in June, replacing Luis Moreno Ocampo) met in Conakry with political and judicial authorities as well as victims of the September 28 massacre, including victims of rape. Ms. Bensouda carried the message that if Guinea is unable to prosecute those responsible, the ICC will.  She emphasized, “there is no third way.” Further below is Ms. Bensouda’s press statement in its entirety.

If you are not familiar with the September 28, 2009, massacre in Conakry, Guinea, please see the  Human Rights Watch report, “Bloody Monday: The September 28 Massacre and Rapes by Security Forces in Guinea”. Human Rights Watch issued a shorter document within a month of the massacre, entitled, “Guinea: September 28 Massacre was Premeditated,” which provides a gripping summary.

The investigation into the massacre, unfortunately, became a political football. The international community, concerned that the country was under the control of  military junta leader, Capt. Dadis Camara, used the investigation as a tool to “scare” him out of the country. A bullet to the head from a colleague took care of this problem in December 2009, and, after recuperating in Morocco, Camara was flown to Burkina Faso where he has lived in exile for the last 2 years.  Even though Camara was out of the way, the international community was concerned that the investigation might cause a rebellion within the ranks of state security forces and might prevent the upcoming presidential elections from taking place. The international community, focused on reassuring investors,  badgered Guinea to hold elections so that, upon completion, it could spin a narrative that Guinea was stable and open for business.

The result was not so rosy.  As we know, Alpha Conde stole the 2010 election. His run for office and his governance in office, is characterized by dangerous ethnic-baiting rhetoric, denial of human and civil rights and refusal to encourage swift prosecutions for heinous crimes committed by state forces in the 2009 massacre. Conde has placed the people of Guinea on a powder keg ready to explode into an ethnic war.  Stable?  Guinea Oye thinks not. For more information, please see “Preventive Diplomacy: The International Community’s Betrayal of the People of Guinea.”

Let’s hope that Ms. Bensouda’s message to Guinea that the “jig is up,” has an effect. And, for those who think that Guinea made some progress in the case with the indictment of Tiegboro Camara in February 2012, think again.  This was a stunt to whet the ICC’s appetite for movement in the case and a mechanism to keep Bensouda at bay.  Her appearance in Conakry last week demonstrates that she understands the game.

Ms. Bensouda’s original press statement is in French. The following is a Google translation into English with editing by Guinea Oye!

Press statement of Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
Conakry April 5, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen

First, I want to thank the Guinean authorities, particularly President and Chief, Alpha Conde and the Justice Minister, Christian Sow, for their hospitality and cooperation during this sixth visit to Conakry – my third as Staff – Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The reason for my visit is simple: I came to review the progress of the national proceedings concerning crimes of September 28, 2009, with the authorities, the judiciary, civil society and victims.

As in previous visits, I was touched and inspired by the conversations I had with victims’ associations. I salute the courage and dignity of victims that I met – including women who were raped, brutalized, and terrorized. These are acts of sexual violence are unthinkable and devastating for victims, their families and their communities.

This is the mandate of my office and a personal priority for me – justice for the victims of Guinea.
The Prosecutor shall initiate investigations and prosecutions launched only when national authorities fail to do so. If top officials are not prosecuted by the Guinean authorities, then the ICC will. As I said before, it’s one or the other, there is no third way.

The survey carried out by the pool of judges of Conakry has made significant progress in recent times with the charge of a high-ranking personality. I want to salute the perseverance and courage of the judges handling the case. They do a complex job in difficult conditions. They deserve our support, the support of authorities and the UN is preparing to support them.

They also deserve the confidence of victims who await justice.

We must continue efforts tirelessly. The authorities assured me that the judges will have all the resources they need and that they can continue to operate independently. As the next head prosecutor, I will personally make sure that this is the case. I will also ensure that the investigation be concluded within a reasonable time for a trial.

This survey is of great importance. For victims in the first place, but also for all Guinean citizens. Guinea has the opportunity to restore the force of law against the law of the jungle. Guinea can turn the page of impunity and build its future on new foundations. Guinea can also become a model, a model of a state which is a party to the ICC that fulfills its obligations to judge only the most senior of the most serious crimes. A model for Africa and the world.

Thank you.

Source: Office of the Prosecutor /


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