GUINEA: Letter to ICC Head, Fatou Bensouda, About Her Post-Election Statement
After two Guinean presidential elections in a row were stolen by Alpha Conde, both fraught with provable, staggering fraud, the people of Guinea are wondering today if they will ever participate in an election where their vote counts. Not only have they been disenfranchised in both elections, but these are the citizens among whom the Guinean government massacred and raped in an audacious attack on an opposition rally on September 28, 2009. It was obvious from the start that probable war crimes were committed. But, before a case can make it to the International Criminal Court, the crimes must first be tried in the court system of the country in which the crimes were committed. Indictments of the perpetrators of the September 28, 2009 massacre were highly unlikely because the case required the government to prosecute itself. Despite reassurances from the ICC head, Fatou Bensouda, that crimes against humanity had taken place, Guinean officials feigned interest in pursuing the case handing out a few indictments — just enough to keep the case in limbo between Guinean courts and the ICC. Before long, Guineans heard and saw less of Fatou Bensouda and it is highly unlikely Guineans will ever receive justice.When ICC prosecutor sent out a statement on October 14, 2015, about post-election violence to the people of Guinea, it sent the opposition into a tailspin. In rather terse language she notified “political actors” that she would prosecute them for any of an array of crimes under ICC jurisdiction. Glaringly lacking in her statement were similar warnings to the Guinean government and a general call to use restraint. Her statement is proof that she is doing the bidding of the Conde government and interested international actors to scare opposition protesters off the streets and, most likely, into jails. Guineans are not lost on the irony that Bensouda did nothing to further the September 28, 2009 massacre case, but she has been drafted to be Conde’s “cop” to police an opposition that has every reason in the world to be in the streets. .
Below is Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s statement followed by a statement from Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon which has been working on issues associated wit the 2009 massacre.
Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, following growing tensions reported in Guinea
As part of its ongoing preliminary examination, my Office has been closely following developments in the situation in Guinea, including as they relate to the risk of possible violence leading to crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”).
The Presidential election in Guinea is following its course. However, reports of growing tensions have recently emerged.
I would like to reiterate my call for calm and restraint to all political actors, and their supporters. I wish to reiterate that anyone who commits, orders, incites, encourages or contributes in any other way to the commission of atrocity crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC is liable to prosecution either in Guinea or at the Court in The Hague.
My Office is closely following developments of the situation in Guinea.
Source: Office of the Prosecutor
Elections in Guinea-letter Pottal Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon to Mrs Fatou Bensouda
New York October 16, 2015
For the past six years, our organization, Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon, and many associations of victims or human rights have been constantly challenging you personally to accelerate a referral to the ICC for crimes against humanity of 28 September 2009 in Guinea. Given the state of decay in which political regimes have deliberately kept the judicial system in Guinea, the Guinean people have hoped that the ICC would be a viable substitute for prosecution of political crimes in our country.
As of 14 October 2015, following the presidential elections, your office has made a statement calling for calm and restraint but also threatening to prosecute people who commit crimes or incite violence.
If your appeal was limited to appeal for calm, it would be commendable. But, in this case, your veiled threats are regrettable in many respects. They echo the words of the Minister of Justice of Guinea. They leave the impression of collusion with those in power with a regrettable ignorance of acts recently committed by the security forces crimes, but also the frustrations of Guineans to have serious deficiencies during the election recorded and addressed. It is the legitimate and inalienable right of every Guinean – political leader or not – to rebel against any failure of governments – especially in an electoral consultation matter. But, by making threats that implicitly target the opponents of the regime, you give the impression to trample these legitimate and fundamental rights. Surprisingly, you seem to favor the maintenance of peace at any cost at the expense of justice and you leave a perception of bias towards those who are viewed by the Guinean people as usurpers of power through electoral manipulations.
If during the last six years, your office was not satisfied that terse statements on crimes against humanity in 2009, your calls would have had more chance of being taken seriously. Better, more drastic and concrete actions of the ICC in prosecuting criminals were the most effective way to ensure elections without violence and acceptance of results by all stakeholders.
Instead, for six years, your office has kept a disturbing silence about heinous crimes committed by the security forces of the regime which, despite the complaints of the victims were never heard by the Guinean justice system. You may recall:y include: the numerous killings of protesters, the attack and the summary execution of citizens dormant in Zogota, the kidnapping of youth in Conakry and their secret transfer to a military camp in Upper Guinea where, following 10 days of torture, two of them lost their lives, arbitrary arrests of military conspiracy rumors etc.
Moreover, despite repeated calls from all sides, we have not heard you disavow the presence in the Guinean government of officers accused of crimes against humanity for which your office is in charge of preliminary investigations. Finally, the ICC found no objection to the flagrant denial of justice by which not only the Guinean government prohibits Daddis Camara to return to his country, but also appear before the court, following his indictment for crimes of 28 September 2009.
These unfortunate oversights contradict the mission of the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC. The ICC has guaranteed a wide independence and discretion to open and manage investigations and to propose the indictment of the accused in gathering evidence. However, in the case of Guinea, neglect and the perception of bias demonstrated by you has put that independence in a bad light. Incidentally, they tarnish the image of the jurisdiction of the ICC which remains a last resort for many African citizens living in countries with ruthless dictatorships.
As always, our organization and many victims’ organizations in Guinea assure you of their full availability to work with you in the search for justice. At the same time, our determination to spare no effort to bring about a Guinea rid of a gangrene of impunity is the reason for our public questioning of you.
Please believe in our regards.
The Central Committee of Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon
· Minister of Justice of Guinea
· Minister for Human Rights of Guinea
· Guinean associations of victims: AVIPA, AFADIS, AGORA, Camp Boiro
· Human Right Watch
· Human Right First
““““`· State Department Global Justice