Use UN Statement on Political Rape in Guinea to Get Case Transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC)
Yesterday, on the third anniversary of the massacre and rape of Guinean citizens by members of Guinea’s ruling junta, the people received some good news from the United Nations. Zainab Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict, issued a declaration that told the world something Guineans have known all along. That is, Guinea’s lack of progress on the case is the result of pervasive impunity of Alpha Conde’s administration.
After three years of pretending to investigate this case, the Guinean court system has fulfilled the criteria which allow cases to be transferred from the country of origin to the International Criminal Court: a country must demonstrate that it is unwilling or unable to prosecute. We know that three years ago Guinea was unwilling to prosecute largely because an investigation would unravel the involvement of former and present government officials in the attack, including Alpha Conde, himself. As for being unable to try the case, let’s just say the court system is not a model of judicial independence. While Ms.Bangura is not in a position to demand the transfer of this case to the ICC, she is ringing a loud bell. Those determined to get justice for the victims should take the bell and ring it loudly in the Hague at Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s door. After all, she was one of the first international investigators to come to Guinea to investigate the massacre in February 2010 and she said, before she left, that crimes against humanity had taken place. Alpha Conde’s administration will sit on this case for as long as it can and will try every trick in the book to prevent it leaving Guinea. This is the time for a full court press. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Statement by Special Representative of the Secretary-General
on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura
GUINEA-CONAKRY: POLITICAL RAPE REMAINS UNPUNISHED
(New York, 28 September 2012)
Three years ago today, the atrocities committed against peaceful protesters by security forces in Guinea-Conakry shocked the world. Women were particular targets of the violence. Public rapes and gang-rapes of women in broad daylight dramatically showed that sexual violence is not only a weapon in times of war. Whether it serves as a tactic of conflict or part of the repertoire of political repression, the intent is the same: to humiliate, silence, intimidate and punish the victims.
The International Commission of Inquiry on the 28 September 2009 events in Guinea verified that in addition to the massacre of at least 150 unarmed protesters, no less than 109 women suffered rape and other forms of sexual abuse. According to the International Commission of Inquiry, these widespread and systematic attacks could constitute crimes against humanity.
I welcome the indictment, announced earlier this month, of Colonel Abdoulaye Chérif Diaby, former Minister of Health in the Moussa Dadis Camara government, for his alleged responsibility in the 28 September 2009 events. It is important that these and other charges are processed swiftly and thoroughly, as justice in Guinea has already been delayed for too long. Although Lieutenant Colonel Moussa Tiegboro Camara earlier this year was charged for his role in the massacre, to date not a single perpetrator has been convicted.
Last November, my predecessor visited Guinea to meet with rape survivors, representatives of victims associations, and government officials. A Joint Communiqué was agreed between the government of Guinea and the United Nations, clearly stating the government’s commitment to fight impunity and ultimately prevent and deter sexual violence. The Joint Communiqué also welcomed the assistance of the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law / Sexual Violence in Conflict to support the Panel of Judges in Guinea, created to lead national investigations into the 2009 incidents. The Team of Experts is currently engaged in discussions with the national authorities to deploy an expert on sexual violence, and I want to encourage the government of Guinea to facilitate this deployment as soon as possible.
There is an urgent need to assist the survivors and bring the remaining perpetrators to justice. It is equally crucial that all victims, other witnesses and their families are afforded full protection and that no effort is spared to ensure their safety throughout this process. Known abusers must not be allowed to hold positions of authority.
Addressing these atrocities is crucial for fostering reconciliation, for trust in the justice system, and for a durable peace. We are committed to supporting the government’s efforts to address impunity for sexual violence and to ensuring that such atrocities are never repeated. We will continue to monitor the situation in Guinea-Conakry and anywhere else that sexual violence may occur.