Human Rights Watch World Report (EN-FR): Guinea in 2013 – NOT a Pretty Picture

Manifestation_de_Bruxelles_22_Mars_2013ACKILLINGGuinean holds sign at demonstration against Alpha Conde which took place in Brussels on March 22, 2013
This week, Human Rights Watch, issued its World Report for 2014 which assesses the human rights situation throughout the world during 2013. Here is a link for the Guinea chapter which is in English (the link to French is at top of page).  Below are selected excerpts from the report.

 
Human Rights Watch has done a pretty good job of covering Guinea’s violent landscape and the impunity with which Alpha Conde and his  regime rule the country. Yet, there are two areas which HRW didn’t get right:  the nature of ethnic tensions in Guinea and the dynamic of the “violent” demonstrations.  Another post on this later.
 
There is nothing in this report that will surprise the overwhelming majority of Guineans. It’s shows clearly that, after stealing the 2010 presidential election, Conde arrived in office without a mandate to govern, requiring him to repress citizens who did not vote for him in order to cover his loss in the election.  Since the day he took over the helm of the country, nothing has improved for the people.  He’s driven the country to hell and seems to enjoy it.  
 
Excerpts from the HRW report on Guinea, 2013
 
Introduction 
 

Parliamentary Elections
 
“Parliamentary elections, not held since 2002, were to have taken place six months after the largely free and fair 2010 election of Alpha Condé as president. However, they were repeatedly delayed by opposition demands to address technical concerns involving the electoral list and the right of the diaspora to participate, among other issues. The delay exacerbated ethnic tensions, deepened a concentration of power in the executive branch, and generated considerable frustration within Guinean civil society and the country’s international partners.”
 
 
International Actors 
 
 “International actors—notably the United Nations Office of West Africa (UNOWA), European Union, France, the United States, and the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF)—took proactive steps to resolve disputes over the organization of parliamentary elections, but rarely spoke out on the need for justice for past and recent crimes by state actors.”
 
 
 
 Accountability for September 28, 2009, and Other Crimes
 
 
“The panel has made important strides, having interviewed more than 300 victims and charged at least eight suspects including several high-level members of the security forces. However, progress continues to be stymied by insufficient government backing and support, including the government’s failure to place high-level suspects on leave from their government posts pending investigation and to satisfactorily resolve the judges’ outstanding request to question the former Guinean president, who is currently living in Burkina Faso. Some suspects have been in pretrial detention longer than the two years Guinean law permits.”
 
 
Judiciary and Detention Conditions
 
 
“Prison and detention centers in Guinea are severely overcrowded, and inmates and detainees lack adequate nutrition, sanitation, and medical care. The largest detention facility—designed for 300 detainees—accommodates some 1,100.”
 
 
Truth-Telling and Independent Human Rights Institutions
 
During 2013, the “Reflection Commission,” created by presidential decree in June 2011 to promote reconciliation, made no visible progress in fulfilling its mandate. The interim co-presidents appeared to limit its mandate to promoting reconciliation largely through prayer, while local human rights groups pushed for a commission that could meaningfully address impunity.
 
 
Conduct of Security Forces 
 
“On at least three occasions, members of the security forces attacked or failed to protect members of the opposition or their family members from violence meted out by ruling party militants. On several occasions, members of the security forces engaged in theft, extortion, and other crimes directed at people living in neighborhoods that largely supported the opposition. The police and gendarmes also failed to equally protect people during violent street demonstrations, including by standing by while protestors supporting the ruling party attacked and at times robbed opposition supporters.”
 
 
Freedom of the Media 
 
“In mid-August, soldiers stormed Bate FM in Kankan, shutting it down for airing President Condé being booed at a rally. At least three journalists were briefly detained. The station was later attacked and looted and one journalist was assaulted in the process. The attackers were allegedly supporters of the president.”
 
Key International Actors 
 
Guinea’s key international partners, notably the United Nations, European Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), France, and the United States, remained largely focused on ensuring progress in the long-delayed parliamentary elections. However, they remained largely silent on the need for those responsible for the September 2009 violence. While they made frequent calls to end the violent exchanges between supporters of the opposition and ruling party, they largely failed to condemn abuses by the security forces or demand that they be held accountable for their crimes.” 
 
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Guinea: Deal with the Devil – Political Parties Sign Agreement with Same Election Cops Who Brutalized Opposition in 2010 Presidential Election

NOTE:  FOSSEL should be operating in full force for the Sept. 19 opposition demonstration given that they are activated for before, during and after the election.
On September 11, 2013, political parties signed a memorandum of understanding with FOSSEL (article is last document below), an election force comprised of gendarmes and police charged with the overall security of the 2013 election and maintaining order.  But, this is no MOU.  It is an edict from the government to political parties to let them know that the FOSSEPE will be everywhere to secure the vote and protect the public.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Yet, the devil is in the details. Here is a excerpt from the “agreement” which demonstrates that FOSSEL’s role is pervasive and murky.  
 
. . . the Fossel is responsible for ensuring the safety of places of meetings and public events, polls, candidates, branches of CENI, leaders of political parties, national and international observers, the private and public media and electoral materials impartially.
 
This provides carte blanche for FOSSEL to be anywhere it wants, including political party meetings and presumably those of the private and public media.  The FOSSEL is made up of both gendarmes and police forces as was the FOSSEPEL used during the 2010 election. FOSSEPEL leveled brutal attacks against the opposition, primarily Peul supporters, throughout the presidential election.  Please see excerpts from Human Rights Watch press releases (further below), which span from November 5 -29, 2010 about FOSSEPEL’s brutal abuses and targeting of Peuls.
 
 
And the guy running the FOSSEL show for the 2013 elections? That would be Gen. Ibrahima Balde, who also led the 2010 FOSSEPEL.  Read the ominous warning he issued to the opposition just before the announcement of the 2010 presidential election results: 
The general leading Guinea’s election security forces on Wednesday urged candidates to accept the outcome of Sunday’s presidential run-off, as authorities issued a fresh batch of results.

“The leaders must understand they have a responsibility to accept the results, for the loser to accept defeat graciously,” General Ibrahim Balde, head of the national guard and electoral security forces, told Reuters.

“If they do not, I do not want to say what will happen. No one wishes it,” he said.
 

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH PRESS RELEASES ABOUT GUINEA SPECIAL ELECTION POLICE, FOSSEPEL, BRUTAL VIOLENCE IN 2010 ELECTION 

  • November 5, 2010
    Press release
    EXCERPT

    “However, FOSSEPEL officials’ response to political violence in late October in Conakry, the capital, was characterized by excessive force, lack of discipline, criminality, and ethnic partisanship.

    “The chances for violence during, and particularly after, this election are very real,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Guinean security services must do all they can to protect all Guineans and ensure that the electorate is able to cast their votes free of fear.”

    General Ibrahim Baldé, the head of the National Gendarmerie, commands the special unit. In July, Baldé signed a much-needed Use of Force Policy, under which Guinean security forces are required to adhere to internationally recognized best practices for responding to violence, including minimum use of force.

    During the October clashes, Human Rights Watch received numerous credible reports of misconduct by policemen and gendarmes serving with FOSSEPEL, including beatings and assaults on party supporters. In some cases, the victims were even chased into their homes and workplaces. Based on the reports, some members of the security unit used the unrest as a pretext to loot shops and commit criminal acts, including theft of mobile phones, money, and other goods.

    Each of the two candidates for the run-off election is from one of the country’s two largest ethnic groups, and members of each group largely support the candidate from their own group. Cellou Dalein Diallo, of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (Union des forces démocratiques de Guinée, UFDG), is a Peuhl; and Alpha Condé, Rally of the Guinean People Party (Rassemblement du peuple de Guinée, RPG), is a Malinké. Very few Peuhls are members of the security services, though.

    Witnesses described how some FOSSEPEL officers targeted individuals for abuse and theft on the basis of their ethnicity, using racially motivated threats and warning them not to vote for a particular party. Scores of protesters were also arbitrarily detained in gendarme camps and denied access to legal representation.

    After the unrest in October, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that at least one person had been killed and 62 injured by the security forces in what it determined was excessive use of force. Members of FOSSEPEL have been implicated in many of the recorded incidents. During some incidents, demonstrators erected roadblocks, burned tires, and threw stones, wounding some members of the security forces.

    Instead of initiating investigations into allegations of abuse, FOSSEPEL officials appear to have distanced themselves from responsibility, Human Rights Watch said. Local news sources have reported that senior members of the security forces, including Baldé himself, said the alleged abuses were committed by “uncontrolled elements” within the police, gendarmes, and army.

    Political and ethnic tension has been steadily rising in Guinea since September. The body charged with overseeing the election has only recently resolved a leadership crisis, while Guineans have waited through three postponements for the presidential election’s second round. A suspected poisoning of dozens of supporters of the Guinean People Party during a meeting in Conakry spurred ethnically motivated attacks against members of the Peuhl ethnicity in at least four towns. The violence displaced about several thousands of people, mostly from the eastern towns of Siguiri, Kouroussa, and Kissidougou.”

  • November 24, 2010
    Press release
    EXCERPT

    Inter-communal Violence and Detentions
    On November 15, 2010, the day the electoral commission declared Alpha Condé the winner of the presidential election, communal violence broke out between his largely Malinké and Susu supporters and the largely Peuhl supporters of his rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo. Some 125 people, including 26 boys, were among those arrested, charged, and transferred to Conakry’s central prison.

    While numerous witnesses described supporters of both parties engaging in widespread acts of aggression, prison records seen by Human Rights Watch indicate that the detained men and boys are overwhelmingly Peuhl. The numbers suggest a disproportionate and ethnically motivated response to the violence by security forces, very few of whom are Peuhl. Human Rights Watch was unable to ascertain how many of those arrested were detained on the basis of credible allegations of criminal acts, or whether they were arbitrarily detained on the basis of their ethnicity.

    Witnesses in Conakry told Human Rights Watch that security forces had severely mistreated many of the men and boys both during and after their arrests, which in several cases occurred at their homes. Human Rights Watch urged government leaders to ensure that members of the security forces suspected of unlawful violence against the detainees are investigated and prosecuted in accordance with international fair trial standards.
    HRW:  New President Needs to Rein in Security Personnel, Ensure Political Neutrality
    November 29, 2010 
    EXCERPT
The grim accounts regarding how security forces acted and the rising inter-communal violence show just how challenging the new president’s job will be. To end Guinea’s long history of violence, the incoming government will need to rein in and ensure the neutrality of the security forces, and urgently address the causes of lingering ethnic tensions.
Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch

(Dakar) – Security forces in Guinea used excessive force and displayed a lack of political neutrality when responding to election-related violence, Human Rights Watch said today. The violence, between supporters of presidential candidates Alpha Condé and Cellou Dalein Diallo, and between protesters and security services, took place in Conakry, the capital, and other cities between November 15 and 19, 2010. At least seven people died, and 220 were wounded.

Human Rights Watch conducted interviews in Guinea with over 80 victims and witnesses. The interviews confirmed that the security forces, dominated by ethnic groups that largely supported Condé’s party, used lethal force to suppress violence by members of the Peuhl ethnic group, who were protesting electoral irregularities against Diallo, their candidate. Guinea’s Supreme Court is expected to announce this week the final results of the contested, second-round election, which, despite some irregularities, was considered by international observers to be the freest in Guinea in 50 years. On November 15, election officials declared Condé the winner of the November 7 run-off election.

“The grim accounts regarding how security forces acted and the rising inter-communal violence show just how challenging the new president’s job will be,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “To end Guinea’s long history of violence, the incoming government will need to rein in and ensure the neutrality of the security forces, and urgently address the causes of lingering ethnic tensions.”

The Human Rights Watch investigation in Guinea showed that members of the security forces used ethnic slurs against members of the Peuhl ethnic group, collaborated with civilian mobs from ethnic groups that largely supported Condé, and in several cases looted and stole property from people who were perceived to have supported Diallo. Although the security forces may have sought to quell the violence that seized the cities of Conakry, Dalaba, and Labé, they failed to provide equal protection to all Guineans, Human Rights Watch said.

Behaving more as predators than protectors, security force members in Guinea have for decades been allowed to get away with abuses including extortion, banditry, theft, kidnapping, racketeering, and excessive use of lethal force, with no apparent fear of being held accountable. Successive authoritarian heads of state have used the security services for partisan ends to repress political opponents, influence the outcome of elections, and intimidate the judiciary.

13.09.2013 9:54 p.m.

The political parties involved in the organization of elections signed Wednesday, September 11 a memorandum of understanding with the special security force legislative elections (Fossel), and in the presence of Major General, Ibrahima Balde, Top Commander of the Force, Director of Military Justice, Commander Fossel.

Indeed, it is mentioned in the MoU that “Fossel mission is to maintain peace, the security and freedom of movement, protection of persons and property on
the territory National before, during and after the general elections of 2013. “

Understood that Fossel is committed to fulfill its mission without interfering in political and administrative local government affairs, nor to question the traditional role assigned to the security forces and defense.

Furthermore, Fossel is committed to improving collaboration with political parties, and further understood that political parties claim to have an internal security organization in the context of elections, political parties understood that engaged in the electoral process are bound by the provisions of the Electoral Code and the Code of Conduct for political parties, and at the same time, the parties undertake to improve collaboration with Fossel.

From the foregoing, the Fossel is responsible for ensuring the safety of places of meetings and public events, polls, candidates, branches of CENI, leaders of political parties, national and international observers, the private and public media and electoral materials and it impartially.

Then in the MOU it is also said that political parties are required to apply the rules of internal security for all activities relating to elections including their seats, places of meetings and procession routes.

And political parties are also responsible to educate their leaders and activists on the need to observe discipline and safety rules before, during and after the announcement of the results until the installation of the National Assembly.

Speaking, General Ibrahima Balde division above all thanked political parties while stating that this signature is a success for the simple reason of having put in place for the first time a legal framework and adaptable to different security realities in conjunction with the legislative elections, the holding is 24 September.

A report on the 31 political parties contesting only 17 responded to the call. And recognizing this fact, General Ibrahima Balde Division recommends that Fossel services in connection with all other political parties, trying to go through all the ways and means for all the other parties to the absent meeting may sign this Protocol.

Balla Yombouno

Tel: 664 745 365

Indictment of Former Head of Presidential Guard for Torture During 2010 Election is Good Oportunity to Look Closer at Widespread State-Sponsored Violence Which Brought Conde to Power

Excerpt from a November 29, 2010 statement by Human Rights Watch

“The Human Rights Watch investigation in Guinea showed that members of the security forces used ethnic slurs against members of the Peuhl ethnic group, collaborated with civilian mobs from ethnic groups that largely supported Condé, and in several cases looted and stole property from people who were perceived to have supported Diallo. Although the security forces may have sought to quell the violence that seized the cities of Conakry, Dalaba, and Labé, they failed to provide equal protection to all Guineans, Human Rights Watch said.

Behaving more as predators than protectors, security force members in Guinea have for decades been allowed to get away with abuses including extortion, banditry, theft, kidnapping, racketeering, and excessive use of lethal force, with no apparent fear of being held accountable. Successive authoritarian heads of state have used the security services for partisan ends to repress political opponents, influence the outcome of elections, and intimidate the judiciary.”
 
The full statement can be found here.
 
No state-sponsored human rights abuser has ever gotten what he deserved for crimes committed against fellow citizens of Guinea.  Here is yet another example.  Aboubacar Sidiki Camara, nicknamed “De Gaulle,” former head of the presidential guard was indicted for crimes of torture against supporters ofl candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo, in the final round of the presidential election 2010.  In Guinea, indictments are handed down and the perpetrators never go to trial.
 
But, Camara’s indictment is a good opportunity to learn more about how election violence was used to intimidate and disenfranchise Diallo supporters, largely of the Peul ethnicity.
 
Below are three articles:
 
-an August 1, 2013, statement from international human rights group, FIDH, and its member organization, the Guinean human rights group, OGDH, about Camara’s indictment
 
-second, an October 25, 2010, statement from Amnesty International condemning the “excessive force”  used by Guinean forces during the election
 
-lastly, a November 5, 2010, statement by Human Rights Watch imploring the interim government of Sekouba Konate to restrain Guinean forces’ attacks on civilians
 
The bottom line is that the excessive violence committed by the state took place throughout the campaign, election, and post-election, a period of six months.  The violence included summary executions, raw brutality, and torture.  The victims were largely Peuls
 
 
 
 
FIDH and its member organization in Guinea, OGDH, announce the indictment of commander Aboubacar Sidiki Camara said “De Gaulle”, former head of the presidential guard, for his alleged responsibility for acts of torture committed in Conakry in October 2010 . FIDH and OGDH, behind this procedure and civil parties along with 17 victims in this case, welcome this important step in this judicial inquiry suggests holding a trial.
Guinea: Indictment of the former head of the presidential guard in the case of torture in 2010
July 31, 2013, the judge in charge of the judicial investigation called the “Case torture October 2010” was formally charged and placed in custody commander Aboubacar Sidiki Camara said “De Gaulle,” former head of the presidential guard during the transition period led by Sékouba KONATÉ for his alleged responsibility for acts of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment in October 2010 in a district of Conakry. ”  Justice finally plays its role and place authors suspects face the consequences of their actions. We now need justice applies to all perpetrators of violations of human rights in Guinea, including recent violence in the region NZérékoré and in clashes between security forces and protesters during political marches that took place since the beginning of the year. Justice has been entered, it must go through  , “said Thierno Sow, president of the OGDH. FIDH and had OGDH alongside 17 torture victims, filed a complaint on May 18 2012 against the Commander Sékou Resco Camara, General Nouhou Thiam, former Chief of Staff and Commander Aboubacar Sidiki “De Gaulle” Camara, former head of the presidential guard. Quickly following the complaint of the FIDH and OGDH before the court of first instance Dixinn (Conakry II), the prosecutor had opened an investigation May 29, 2012 , including “unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, intentional assault, abuse of authority, crimes committed in the exercise of his functions “that had identified the alleged command responsibility Sékou Resco Camara and General Nouhou Thiam, both charged respectively on 14 and 25 February in 2013 . In October 2010, according to information submitted to the court, the elements of the bodyguard of the Acting Chairman of the transition were arbitrarily arrested and detained several people and were subjected to torture in the presence and following the instructions Mr. Sékou Resco Camara, General Nouhou Thiam, and Commandant Aboubacar Sidiki Camara said “De Gaulle”. These crimes committed by those in charge of public authority were held on the sidelines of the presidential campaign for the second round and not directly related to it. However, these violations remain symptomatic arbitrary practices, legacies of political violence and a half-century of impunity in Guinea. ”  This new indictment shows that advance education and that a trial is no longer a far for victims of political violence in Guinea hypothesis  , “said Mr. Martin Pradel, lawyer Legal Action Group FIDH and victims. ”  This is the fourth charge of a senior this year for serious violations of human rights perpetrated in 2009 and 2010, it shows that we can not commit such acts with impunity  , “he added. FIDH and OGDH call the Guinean authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the proper administration of justice, ensuring the safety of its players and especially magistrates in charge of investigations into serious violations of human Man after this series of charges, including that of commander PIVI Claude “Coplan” , the current head of the presidential guard, June 27, 2013 for his alleged involvement in the massacre of the stadium on 28 September 2009. FIDH and OGDH worry that Mr. Claude PIVI and one of his co-defendants in the case of 28 September 2009, Lieutenant-Colonel Thiegboro CAMARA mandated to restore public order in Forest Guinea after clashes international community in the region Nzerekore that would have a hundred deaths. ”  Judicial advances in 2013 are to be commended for this declared by the President as the year of justice year, but send two security officials indicted justice for serious violations of human rights restore order in the province, it seems inappropriate  , “said Karim LAHIDJI, President of FIDH. ”  We ask that they be relieved of their duties until their responsibility for these criminal acts have been decided by a court, which can then decide with confidence  , “he added.

 

 

Amnesty International calls on the Guinean authorities to investigate reports that police used excessive force to quell election protests in the capital Conakry during the past week, leaving one person dead, about 60 injured and more than 100 detained.

Government forces intervened in demonstrations by supporters of rival political parties after the country’s presidential run-off was postponed for the third time on Friday. Security forces fired indiscriminately at unarmed civilians, beat protesters and ransacked homes.

“This ruthless and reckless reaction to the protests is the latest example of violence by Guinea’s security forces, whose brutality habitually goes unpunished,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s Guinea researcher.

“The authorities must investigate reports of torture and ill-treatment by its forces and charge or release all those detained, while ensuring that no more lives are claimed by the police’s heavy-handedness as the uncertainty over elections continues.”

Amnesty International understands that at least 15 people were shot by security forces. One person, Ibrahim Khalil Bangourah, is confirmed to have died as a result of his injuries.

Former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, who took 43% of votes in the first round of the election in June, takes on opposition leader Alpha Condé, who won 18% of the vote, in the presidential run-off.

However, the final round of the election – set to be the country’s first democratic poll after 52 years of authoritarian rule – has now been delayed three times due to what the country’s electoral commission termed “technical difficulties”; reportedly a lack of voting facilities.

The latest cancellation sparked two days of clashes between followers of Conde and Diallo, although calm appeared to be restored by Sunday as a government ban on demonstrations was observed by party supporters.

Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that police had undressed and beaten several protesters in clashes across Conakry.

“I was sitting and eating with my relatives when the security forces arrived in the yard, threw away the plates and beat us – three of us were taken to the police station,” one released detainee told Amnesty International.

Prominent human rights activist Aliou Barry, president of the Observatory for the Defence of Human Rights, was beaten after trying to speak out against the beatings of other protesters on Saturday.

Amnesty International has called for reform of Guinea’s security forces for years, especially since the “Bloody Monday” massacre of 28 September 2009. On that day and in the following days, security forces killed more than 150 people and raped more than 40 women during and following protests against the decision by the head of state, Dadis Camara, to stand in the presidential elections.

More than 1,500 people were wounded and many people went missing or were detained. Many perpetrators of the massacre remain in positions of authority, protected from prosecution.

Since 2004, arms or training have been provided to Guinea’s security forces from China, France, Germany, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and the USA.

 
 

Guinea: Ensure Restraint by Security Forces During Elections

Source: Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Date: 05 Nov 2010

(Dakar, November 5, 2010) – The special unit to maintain security during the second round of Guinea’s presidential elections, on November 7, 2010, should act with discipline, minimum force, and neutrality, Human Rights Watch said today. While the first round of elections took place in June in relative calm, the run-off election will take place amid heightened ethnic and political tensions.

In May, the Guinean government created the Special Force for a Safe Electoral Process (Force spéciale de sécurisation du processus électoral, FOSSEPEL), with 16,000 members, half of them police and half gendarmes, to ensure security during and after the electoral process. The few clashes between supporters of different political parties before and immediately after the first round were defused quickly and in apparent compliance with the principles of minimum use of force. However, FOSSEPEL officials’ response to political violence in late October in Conakry, the capital, was characterized by excessive force, lack of discipline, criminality, and ethnic partisanship.

“The chances for violence during, and particularly after, this election are very real,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Guinean security services must do all they can to protect all Guineans and ensure that the electorate is able to cast their votes free of fear.”

General Ibrahim Baldé, the head of the National Gendarmerie, commands the special unit. In July, Baldé signed a much-needed Use of Force Policy, under which Guinean security forces are required to adhere to internationally recognized best practices for responding to violence, including minimum use of force.

During the October clashes, Human Rights Watch received numerous credible reports of misconduct by policemen and gendarmes serving with FOSSEPEL, including beatings and assaults on party supporters. In some cases, the victims were even chased into their homes and workplaces. Based on the reports, some members of the security unit used the unrest as a pretext to loot shops and commit criminal acts, including theft of mobile phones, money, and other goods.

Each of the two candidates for the run-off election is from one of the country’s two largest ethnic groups, and members of each group largely support the candidate from their own group. Cellou Dalein Diallo, of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (Union des forces démocratiques de Guinée, UFDG), is a Peuhl; and Alpha Condé, Rally of the Guinean People Party (Rassemblement du peuple de Guinée, RPG), is a Malinké. Very few Peuhls are members of the security services, though.

Witnesses described how some FOSSEPEL officers targeted individuals for abuse and theft on the basis of their ethnicity, using racially motivated threats and warning them not to vote for a particular party. Scores of protesters were also arbitrarily detained in gendarme camps and denied access to legal representation.

After the unrest in October, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that at least one person had been killed and 62 injured by the security forces in what it determined was excessive use of force. Members of FOSSEPEL have been implicated in many of the recorded incidents. During some incidents, demonstrators erected roadblocks, burned tires, and threw stones, wounding some members of the security forces.

Instead of initiating investigations into allegations of abuse, FOSSEPEL officials appear to have distanced themselves from responsibility, Human Rights Watch said. Local news sources have reported that senior members of the security forces, including Baldé himself, said the alleged abuses were committed by “uncontrolled elements” within the police, gendarmes, and army.

Political and ethnic tension has been steadily rising in Guinea since September. The body charged with overseeing the election has only recently resolved a leadership crisis, while Guineans have waited through three postponements for the presidential election’s second round. A suspected poisoning of dozens of supporters of the Guinean People Party during a meeting in Conakry spurred ethnically motivated attacks against members of the Peuhl ethnicity in at least four towns. The violence displaced about several thousands of people, mostly from the eastern towns of Siguiri, Kouroussa, and Kissidougou.

The tension has led many diplomats, analysts, and civil society leaders to warn of the likelihood of political violence after the second round. Human Rights Watch urged the Guinean authorities, especially General Baldé, to:

– Direct all members of FOSSEPEL forces to abide by the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials in policing demonstrations, and to frequently, and publicly, reinforce these instructions;

– Reiterate a zero-tolerance policy for criminal behavior and human rights abuses by the police and gendarmes; and

– Inform all ranks of the security forces that credible allegations of human rights abuses by security forces will be investigated and that those responsible will be disciplined and held to account.

The UN principles require law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duties, to use nonviolent means as far as possible before resorting to force. Whenever the lawful use of force is unavoidable, law enforcement officials must use restraint, minimize damage and injury at all times, and respect and preserve human life. Guinean authorities are responsible for ensuring that commanding officers are held accountable if they know, or had reason to know, that law enforcement officials under their command resorted to the unlawful use of force and firearms, and if they failed to take all measures in their power to prevent, suppress, or report such abuse.

Guinean security forces have on numerous occasions in the past used excessive and lethal force and engaged in widespread criminal activities in the course of responding to demonstrations. In 2006 and 2007, about 150 people were killed while protesting deteriorating economic conditions, and 1,700 were wounded. On September 28, 2009, at least 150 demonstrators were killed and 100 women and girls were raped by security forces during a bloody crackdown on demonstrators calling for free and fair elections.

Human Rights Watch also called on the United Nations, the European Union, France, and the United States to exert consistent and meaningful pressure on the security unit’s commanders and Guinea’s political leaders to ensure credible and peaceful elections.

“The second round of Guinea’s elections can be a turning point for people long denied the right to freely elect their president,” Dufka said. “If the security forces remain neutral, act professionally, and respond to any violence by making every effort to protect human life, they can help make this election a victory for all Guineans.”

GUINEA: Journalists Re-Inventing Alpha Conde and Human Rights Groups Ignoring His Human Rights Abuses

Journalists Re-Inventing Alpha Conde
 
Alpha Conde has a pretty good communications team as well as experts from an image consulting firm, who have combined forces to give him a new face to present to the world.  The goal of this re-invention of Guinea’s head of state is to make him appear more “presidential,” to re-brand him as a mining “reformer” and “corruption” fighter and, perhaps most importantantly, to conceal his  terrible human rights record and his deadly policy of targeting those of the Peul ethnic group.  Based on international media coverage Conde has received of late, it’s working.
 
Tony Blair and George Soros, have been instrumental in gaining access for Conde to both political high rollers and influential business people and his communications team have the pictures to prove it.  The invitation he received to the UK for a G-8 Transparency, Trade, and Tax Committee meeting in June, was close enough for his communications people to issue breathless press releases announcing that “Conde is Heading to the G-8 Summit!”  Suffice it to say, Conde never made it to Northern Ireland where the actual G-8 summit was held, but because of the press statements, many believed he did and, in the world of propaganda, this is all that counts. 
 
Conde capitalized on his “proximity” to the G-8 Summit by doing several interviews set up by his image consulting firm.  Suddenly, Conde’s face was everywhere — Great Britain’s Independent Television Network (ITN), Radio France Internationale, and the cover of Jeune Afrique.  He also had an op-ed piece, obviously penned by his image consultants, which made the rounds of all major  international media outlets.  The newfound mining “reformer,” increased journalists fascination with Guinea’s Simandou iron ore project as did the billionaire diamond merchant, Beny Steinmetz, and his shell game to gain control over a part of the iron ore field.  The story was all the more intriguing because of alleged bribes made by Steinmetz to the wife of dying president, Lansana Conte, in order to seal the deal. 
 
And, over the last month, this is how Simandou became the ONLY story journalists pursued concerning Guinea and Conde.  This happened to the virtual exclusion of Conde’s poor management of the country, his ethnic baiting policies which have raised tensions to an all time high, and relentless violent repression meted out by his security forces against opposition supporters. With these kinds of problems festering in Guinea and on the horizon, fraudulent legislative elections likely to cause a civil war, Conde’s image consultants have done a masterful job keeping the press’ attention focused on Simandou, the diamond dealer and the “reformer.”
 
 
Ever since the G-8 Summit, sans Conde,, he and his image makers have continued to score points in the media. One of the best examples is a lengthy article in the “New Yorker” magazine entitled, “Buried Secrets.” The article, by Patrick Keefe, is a corruption thriller in which Beny Steinmetz is the bad billionaire and Alpha Conde is the last man standing to defend Guinea against seemy mining titans and grifters.  
 
When Keefe interviewed Steinmetz he spent most of time trying to get Steinmetz to admit he’s a crook.  Later in the interview an interesting topic surfaces.  Steinmetz raises the issue of Conde’s dreadful human rights record and suggests he has blood on his hands.  Any reporter worth his salt would have said “tell me more,” but Keefe stopped Steinmentz in his tracks and said, “Dadis Camara had blood on his hands, too, yet you invited him to your daughter’s wedding in Israel.”  Most would agree that Keefe’s cloak and dagger thriller would have been infinitely more thrilling had he allowed Steinmetz to talk.  After all, Steinmetz has close ties with Israeli intelligence services which surely have a file of some kind on Conde.  But, Keefe was having none of it.  What journalist would close such a door?  Perhaps, a journalist who is writing an article about a “reformer” expressly for the purpose of covering significant human rights abuses.  
 
The full court press among journalists to re-invent Conde will be around for a while and what is needed are a few good investigative reporters to dig for the evidence about Conde’s theft of the 2010 election and his mounting human rights violations.  Now, a story like that would be far more intriguing than Conde, the “reformer.”  Who knows, someone might win a Pulitzer prize for daring to write the story that others would not. 
 
As you might guess, Keefe was loyal to Conde until the bitter end of his article.  The scene is set with Conde slumped in a big chair at the presidential palace contemplating Guinea’s tricky world of mining and then he muses out loud, “How can we be so rich and yet so poor?”  Only the poor can ask a question such as this.  Conde understands well why the poor have not benefited from the natural resources in the country.  For him to feign ignorance about this is the ultimate insult. 
 
 
Human Rights Groups Ignoring Conde’s Human Rights Abuses
 
NOTE:  The following is written about Human Rights Watch specifically, but criticisms made apply to several international human rights organizations which are significantly less vocal about Alpha Conde’s human rights abuses than they were two years ago, yet today’s state repression and violence are far worse than then.
 
Recently, Claude Pivi, Minister of Presidential Security, was summoned to appear before a Guinean court to answer questions about his involvement in the September 28, 2009, massacre against opposition demonstrators in a stadium in Conakry.   Pivi is long thought to be one of the primary perpetrators of the attack.  Human Rights Watch was one of the first organizations on the ground after the attack to conduct an investigation and to hold interviews with victims.  HRW’s relentless pursuit of truth and justice in the 2009 attack is one of the few rays of hope for victims and their families.  Guinea Oye has repeatedly applauded HRW’s efforts over the last four years to keep pressure on the Guinean court system and Alpha Conde, himself, to make sure the country is responsive to the need to move forward with indictments of those responsible.  An HRW press statement, issued last week, addresses Pivi’s questioning before the court.
 
HRW makes an interesting request in its statement concerning Pivi, whom HRW has long asked Alpha Conde to remove from his cabinet.  The statement asks “Guinean officials” to put Pivi on leave from his post as Minister for Presidential Security while under court inquiry, because of concern that he will use his cabinet level position to exert undue influence on the investigation.  “Guinean officials?”  Anyone in particular?  As a member of the Guinean cabinet, there is only one person who can make Claude Pivi do anything — Alpha Conde.  Why didn’t HRW address Conde directly in its press statement and ask him to do the deed?  There was a time when HRW had no qualms about calling out Alpha Conde on a variety of things, including Guinea’s lack of progress on the September 28 case and his own dismal human rights record.  Why is HRW disassociating Conde from his Minister of Presidential Security?  
 
The most recent news from Guinea is that Alpha Conde has interceded on Pivi’s behalf to get a postponement (indefinite?) of his questioning before the court.  Where is a new statement from HRW calling out Conde for interfering in Pivi’s case by getting his court appearance postponed?
 
If one takes a few steps back, Conde’s behavior concerning Pivi is strange.  Allowing Pivi to remain in his cabinet, claiming repeatedly that Pivi was not at the stadium on the day of the attack and helping him get away from court questioning demonstrates bad judgment on his part, especially for someone who is re-inventing himself.  In any event, their relationship is highly suspect and maybe one of those investigative reporters will dig deeply enough to reveal it.
 
In a recent post, Guinea Oye took particular note of HRW’s odd and prolonged silence concerning human rights abuses which have taken place over the last six months in Guinea.  These abuses run the gamut from extrajudicial killings to rape to mutulation to burning of homes and businesses to arbitrary arrests and all manner of anti-Peul repression.  Not only have state forces been involved in this violence but also Malinke militias, Donzos (mercenaries) and gangs paid for by Conde’s party, the RPG.  Further, HRW has made no comment about a state forces attack on the home of opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, in which his life was threatened.  Diallo ran against Conde and won the final round of the 2010 presidential election which Conde then stole. The state-sponsored violence committed in the first six months of 2013 mirrors that of what happened in 2009.  HRW’s silence on the latest violence in Guinean is disheartening and puzzling.
 
The close focus by human rights organizations on the the September 28 massacre and the lack of focus on the 2013 violence suggests that the international community’s perceptions about one human rights abuser– Dadis Camara — are quite different from those about another human rights abuser –Alpha Conde.  Anything that could be done to get Camara a one-way ticket out of Guinea was fine.  Courtesy of a bullet to the head, Camara is now in exile in Burkina Faso.  Within the last year, the international community has nearly stood on its head to clean up, cover up, and re-invent Conde to keep him in office.  A shift of focus away from Conde took place in several human rights groups roughly in the same time frame and it is not coincidental.  While a spruced up Conde may be helping an influx of business investors in Guinea, the fact that he is still at the helm of the country is an insult to the people of Guinea.
 
Re-inventing Conde or going silent about his gross human rights abuses may appease an international community desperate to hold legislative elections so it can proclaim Guinea a  “democracy.”  It is the politicians and diplomats who manipulate facts and factors in order to bring about desired results.  Such manipulations can change a country in an instant, as evidenced by Conde’s theft of the 2010 presidential election.
 
So, it is the journalists and the human rights organizations which must play it straight, tell it like it is and carry the banner for the victims of repression.  Falling in line with politicians and diplomats strips organizations of their credibility and, most importantly, it leaves those most vulnerable without a voice.
 
 
  
Human Rights Watch Statement
 

(Nairobi) – Guinea’s domestic panel of judges investigating the country’s 2009 stadium massacre and rapes has taken a significant step in charging a high-level suspect, who is expected to be questioned by the judges on July 4. Given the potential for interference with the investigation, the government should place the suspect on leave and take additional measures to protect judges, witnesses, and victims.

The suspect, Lt. Col. Claude “Coplan” Pivi, is Guinea’s minister for presidential security, a position he also held at the time of the 2009 crimes. Media reports said that Pivi was charged with murder, rape, arson, looting, destruction of buildings, and complicity. Consistent with international law, Pivi is presumed innocent unless tried and proven guilty.

“The judges took a major step for justice for the 2009 stadium massacre and rapes by filing charges against an influential, high-level official,” said Elise Keppler, senior international justice counsel with Human Rights Watch. “Now Guinean officials need to show their commitment to justice by putting Pivi on leave so he won’t be in a position to influence the investigation.”

Pivi appeared before the judges briefly on June 28, 2013, during which time they notified him that charges had been filed. Pivi is expected to appear before the judges again on July 4, for questioning.

Human Rights Watch has extensively documented the 2009 crimes and closely followed the investigation. On September 28, 2009, several hundred members of Guinea’s security forces burst into a stadium in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, and opened fire on tens of thousands of opposition supporters peacefully gathered there. By late afternoon, at least 150 Guineans lay dead or dying, and dozens of women had suffered brutal sexual violence, including individual and gang rape.

Human Rights Watch, a United Nations-supported International Commission of Inquiry, and other independent human rights organizations identified Pivi as someone whose possible role in the crimes should be investigated.

“The sensitive nature of charging such a high-ranking officer brings increased risk for judges, witnesses, and victims alike,” Keppler said. “The Guinean authorities need to ensure the judges, witnesses, and victims are protected against threats.”

The panel of judges has made important progress in the investigation. They have interviewed more than 200 victims and charged at least 8 people, including Pivi and other high-ranking military officers.

Others charged include Guinea’s minister in charge of fighting drug trafficking and organized crime, Col. Moussa Tiégboro Camara, and Col. Abdoulaye Chérif Diaby, the health minister at the time.Another key suspect the judges have charged, Lt. Abubakar “Toumba” Diakité, remains at large.

However, the investigation has been plagued by lack of material support and concerns about security for the judges. The investigation has yet to be completed nearly four years later. Some suspects have already been in pretrial detention longer than the two years permitted by Guinean law.

Human Rights Watch, in December 2012, identified several key benchmarks the Guinean government should meet to support the panel to complete its investigation. They include ensuring the judges have adequate resources and security; establishing a witness and victim protection program; and resolving a two-year-old request to the government of Burkina Faso to interview Guinea’s former president, Dadis Camara, who is living in that country.

The report also urged the government to place suspects on leave from government posts – namely Col. Moussa Tiégboro Camara and Lieutenant Colonel Pivi – where there is a risk they could interfere with the investigation. This is especially important given the prominent role members of the military have played in Guinean society.

On October 14, 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor confirmed that the situation in Guinea was under preliminary examination – a step that may or may not lead to the opening of an investigation. The ICC has closely monitored the situation and played a pivotal role in keeping accountability on the government’s agenda, and fostering progress by regularly visiting Guinea and talking with the local media.

“Victims in Guinea are desperate to see justice for the heinous crimes of September 28, 2009, and the days immediately following,” Keppler said. “Fair investigation and prosecution are essential to bring redress to the victims and to signal a definitive end to longstanding impunity for abuses by members of the security services.”

GUINEA: Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group – Where Are You?

At the outset, it should be said that Human Rights Watch (HRW) deserves a medal for the intensive efforts it focused on Guinea over the last several years. HRW’s most important work on human rights in Guinea came in the aftermath of the September 28, 2009, massacre and rapes of opposition supporters, largely Peul, in a stadium by state-sponsored forces. HRW interviewed victims and compiled a report called, “Bloody Monday,” which  must be one of the most compelling human rights chronicles to be issued by an  international human rights organization.  But, HRW did not stop there.  It took on both the interim government of Sekouba Konate and Alpha Conde’s regime.  HRW  assailed both governments for lack of progress in investigating the crimes committed as well as the shameful failure by the government to pursue the  perpetrators.  It also condemned Alpha Conde for putting two of the September 28 perpetrators in his cabinet.  For three years, HRW has stayed on the case continuing to push for  justice for the September 28 victims and their families.  Further, HRW kept  apace of new violations of human rights beginning with the pre- and  post-election violence in 2010 as well as Alpha Conde’s ever-expanding human  rights abuse record once in office.  The last statement from HRW on Guinea  was issued on December 5, 2012 urging Guinea to step up efforts to ensure justice for victims of the stadium massacre in 2009.  The last report on Guinea was issued in February 2013, which was a part of HRW’s annual World Report for 2013, covering calendar year 2012. 

Much has happened in Guinea over the last six months and the  stakes are even higher than usual because of the intention of the government to commit fraud in upcoming legislative elections.  Further, the country is closer to an ethnic civil war than ever.  Not hearing HRW’s strong  voice during these very dangerous times is disconcerting. The people of Guinea  need to know that HRW supports them in this struggle and a press release would go a long way to show that support.  An  increasing number of Guineans are finding themselves the target of Alpha Conde’s murderous regime.  The cumulative impact of violent events since 2009 bores into the psyche of most Guineans. Yet, in those same four years, security forces and militias have achieved a level of comfort with the fact that killing opposition supporters, primarily Peuls, is their job and they will never have to face punishment. 

The people of Guinea need the shining light that only international human rights organizations can provide.  But, like most non-governmental organizations, human rights groups have shifts in priorities which can account for those lights shining less brightly along the way. Sometimes this happens because of reduction in staff, other times it is precipitated by a change in focus from one part of the world to another.  For instance, how many human rights groups readjusted resources to more closely focus on the so-called Arab Spring?  But, most often these kinds of changes are the result of overriding political concerns, usually raised by influential board members.  
 
Yet, some human rights abuse problems are so serious that they should remain a priority for all  major human rights organizations.  In the case of Guinea, it is the commission of state-sponsored violence to conduct ethnic cleansing.  Not since the regime of Sekou Toure, Guinea’s first president, has ethnic cleansing of the Peul ethnic group been an established policy of the government.  If we go back  to the massacre and rapes of September 2009, we know that the perpetrators were hunting for Peuls because they asked about the ethnic identity of their victims just before killing or raping them.  In the case of the 2010 violence  perpetrated by the interim government, Peuls were specifically disenfranchised in the presidential election and ethnic cleansing was the tool of intimidation.   Alpha Conde has used ethnic cleansing regularly since coming to office in 2011 and it is even more prevalent today.  Killing Peuls is the only way to rid himself of the overwhelming majority of Guineans who did not vote for him as well as a way to ensure he maintains his following among Malinkes.
On February 18, 2013, the International Crisis Group (ICG), laid out a bombshell of a report focused on getting Guinea out of a “quagmire” that prevents it from holding legislative elections.  The executive summary of the report, entitled “Guinea:  A Way Out of the Election  Quagmire” appears below.  The remarkable thing about this report is that it demonstrates an almost innate understanding of Guineans. the dynamics between ethnic groups, and the historical forces which have brought Guineans to where they are now.  Even more incredible is that all the recommendations for change are directed at Alpha Conde. his government, and his assorted forces, both official and unofficial. There are no recommendations for the opposition.
 
Let’s look at some of the recommendations (see below, at the end of the executive summary) made by ICG.  Four things are remarkable.  
 
First, if you were to sum up the first recommendation to Conde, it is to “act like a president.”  It recommends bringing together political parties, the National Transition Council, and the CENI to talk about how to work together and resolve differences.  Elementary!
 
Second, the CENI is urged strongly to make arrangements for diaspara voting (as provided for in the Constitution) and to, well, act like an electoral council by playing fair and to quit pulling fast ones.  Unbelievable!
 
Third it tells the government to clarify its position on Donzos.  Obviously, ICG knows about Conde’s Donzo fighters and probably about his assorted Malinke militias.  ICG is telling Conde to come clean on his Donzo groups, but knows he won’t.  Yet, by putting this recommendation in the report, ICG “outs” Conde sufficiently.  Brilliant!
 
Fourth, the recommendation to the international community is to intercede, guide and make sure that the elections are fair and square. Usually such carte blanche is given to members of the international community to assist with committing election fraud, such as during the 2010 presidential election. Ironic!
 
All the recommendations taken together tell a story about why Guineans cannot go to legislative elections as long as Alpha Conde is at the helm of the country.  You cannot trust Alpha Conde as far as you can throw him, the CENI is overrun by Conde’s crony operatives, the government is using Donzos (also security forces and Malinke militias) to kill the opposition, especially Peuls, and only the international community can fix this mess.  Things look quite bad for Alpha Conde and his administration.  
 
So how did ICG follow up on its report?  What does it have to say about the recent and intense deterioration of the political situation and increased violence in Guinea? Since the report was issued, ICG staff have given interviews to the media which have focused largely on the report’s recommendations  But, it was in an ICG press statement issued just 8 days after the “Quagmire” report, on February 27, 2013, which “calls out” the opposition for withdrawing from talks with the government concerning the election, that a slightly new attitude at ICG emerged.  Here is an excerpt:
 
“The opposition’s withdrawal bodes ill for a peaceful and legitimate vote. The precise implications of the election commission pushing ahead with a May date – as the commission’s chair Bakary Fofana promises – without the consent of opposition-aligned commissioners, are troubling, if unclear. Nor is it clear what the opposition means by withdrawing from the current process while insisting it will not boycott the polls, or by its oft-repeated threat to “block” the vote. Non-participation rarely proves a successful strategy. The opposition risks being left without a voice in decisions related to electoral mechanics, like the revision of voter rolls. Its exclusion, and the resulting polarisation, will make it almost impossible to manage the conflicts that will inevitably arise during a contentious competition for power in a divided society with a recent violent past. Despite recent efforts by the judiciary to curb impunity, Guinea’s security forces have a long history of heavy-handed repression. A scrappy election could present restless officers, who only recently submitted to civilian rule, with opportunities for troublemaking. The cost of divisive and violent elections for the young democracy could be enormous.”  — ICG, Salvaging Guinea’s Elections, 27 Feb 2013
 
Researchers who worked on the “Quagmire” report know well why the opposition cannot sit down and talk with Conde’s government about anything.  It is a never-ending duplicitous trap that can only hurt the opposition.  But, someone, somewhere in ICG or close to it, thought it necessary to rap the opposition’s knuckles over its intent to “walk away” from elections.  A low and unnecessary blow.  It is likely that this stance about the opposition was taken to assuage the international community which is as willing to send Guineans into a highly fraudulent election as it would be to send lemmings over a cliff.  It is a low and unnecessary blow.  
 
Now, ICG needs to do the right thing by the people of Guinea, as it did in the “Quagmire” report, and explain that it cannot support the holding of elections in Guinea at this time.  It cannot produce more statements like the one above which attempts to lay blame for a violent future and the possibility of a military takeover of the country on the opposition.  For this, ICG must focus on Alpha Conde.  Remember, the people of Guinea’s lives changed horribly when Conde committed massive fraud and stole the 2010 election.  They will not march into a fraudulent election again.  Here’s hoping ICG can muster up the spirit of the “Quagmire” report and support the Guinean people’s right to resist a fraudulent election.  ICG staff would never vote in an election in their own countries if similar electoral fraud was such a profound reality.
 
 

Guinea:  A Way Out of the Election Quagmire

Africa Report N°199 18 Feb 2013

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Two years after President Alpha Condé’s victory in the first really  competitive election in the history of postcolonial Guinea, the country still  does not have a national assembly. Forthcoming legislative elections look set to  be complicated: ethnic tensions, compounded by the 2010 polls, remain high and  the electoral system is deeply controversial. The establishment of a new  Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in September 2012 was an  important step, but progress stalled again in December on the issue of the voter  register. President Condé must engage in a genuine dialogue with the opposition  and the INEC must reach a consensual solution on the register. With  international support, the government and opposition must consolidate the  electoral system. Peaceful and credible legislative elections are essential to  establish a parliament that reflects the country’s diversity, give the  opposition a real voice, restore checks and balances, and prevent the hope  raised by the replacement of illegitimate military leaders with an elected  civilian president turning into disillusionment.

Direct dialogue between the government and opposition on the legislative  elections started more than a year after Alpha Condé came to power, with the  Inclusive Framework for Political Dialogue (Cadre de dialogue politique  inclusif, CDPI). It ended two months later with limited results. Between March  2012 and February 2013, there were no further direct talks, but instead a series  of interventions, facilitations, consultations and announcements. Some questions  have been settled and others brushed aside, but the opposition still strongly  disagrees on two key issues: the INEC and the voter register. Soon after a  banned opposition protest on 27 August 2012, which led to widespread disorder in  the capital Conakry, the government pledged to reconstitute the INEC, and the  commission’s controversial president asked that his mandate not be renewed. His  successor, Bakary Fofana, presented in December a timetable setting the  elections for 12 May 2013. Does this signal a way forward? Did this peculiar  form of dialogue, with accusations, manoeuvres and anger, eventually yield  progress?

Although there has been some headway, the level of polarisation remains high.  The appointment of the new INEC members created fresh friction, with its new  president rapidly coming under fire, and it is this contentious institution that  must resolve the key problem of the electoral register. Tension on that issue  boiled over on 10 December, when the opposition accused Fofana of violating the  procedures of INEC by refusing to release a report on the register prepared by  the International Organisation of Francophonie (Organisation internationale de  la francophonie, OIF), and considered calling for his resignation. Fofana’s  announcement, the following day, that elections would be held in May 2013 raised  the temperature further: the opposition rejected that date, arguing that the  INEC plenary had not been consulted.

The opposition also protested against the technical weaknesses and lack of  transparency in the process of revising the electoral register, as well as the  lack of preparation for the Guinean diaspora’s vote. On 29 January, the  opposition, allied with a number of “centrist” parties, called for new  demonstrations and dismissed the direct dialogue called for by the authorities  as a ploy to have them cancel the protest. During a new INEC meeting to discuss  the electoral register on 11 February, the majority supporting President Condé  voted to endorse the controversial revision while opposition commissioners  walked out. They might decide to suspend permanently their participation.

In sum, the situation remains worrisome. Holding elections while the  government and opposition disagree on fundamental issues is dangerous. The  government shows contempt for the opposition and took almost a year to engage in  dialogue. The opposition maintains that President Condé was elected through  fraud and prefers to avoid elections (or, at least, does not want transparent  and consensual polls). It accuses the regime of ethnic favouritism. Civil  society, which played a key role at the end of the 2000s, is now divided along  political and ethnic lines. Controversial elections against the backdrop of  ethnic disputes raise many risks at both local and national levels.

Electoral turmoil could degenerate into significant violence. Security sector  reform has made limited progress and tension remains very high between the  security forces, accustomed to impunity and also affected by ethnic disputes,  and the population, exasperated by police and army brutality. Electoral troubles  could offer opportunities to those in the armed forces who have not fully  accepted their new submission to civilian authority.

The Condé regime cannot simply talk about its good governance and development  ambitions: it must also iron out political tensions. Moreover, it is more  important that the vote is credible than that it takes place in May – although  with so much time already lost it should take place as soon as possible and  certainly before December 2013. For this to happen, dialogue is vital. The road  to the elections will be rocky, but it is crucial to keep friction to a minimum,  maintain serious dialogue between the parties and rebuild trust in the electoral  apparatus. It is also necessary to strengthen the capacity of the political  system – the judiciary, territorial administration, security forces, INEC,  political parties – and for civil society to manage in a proper and credible  manner the conflicts that will inevitably emerge during the long electoral  journey ahead.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To break the election logjam and guarantee a credible vote

To the president of the republic:

1.  Set up regular meetings with the leaders of the main parties and the boards of the National Transition Council (Conseil national de transition, CNT)  and INEC to discuss the political situation and establish shared understanding  of the electoral system issue.

To the president of INEC:

2.  Provide all INEC commissioners with all the documents relating to the  organisation of the elections and clarify the procedures for the revision of the  electoral register.

3.  Reopen discussions on the electoral register in the INEC plenary without  excluding any solution; on this issue and on others, the electoral commission must make credible decisions, which require operating on the basis of consensus rather than on a majority vote.

4.  Take the necessary steps to allow Guineans living in the diaspora to  exercise their right to vote.

To the government of Guinea:

5.  Increase and publicise the repression of crimes and offences committed by  members of the defence and security forces, whether in the execution of their  duties or not.

6.  Consider, in consultation with human rights organisations, the creation  of an observatory of impunity.

7.  Clarify publicly its position on, and its relations with, the different  organisations of “donzo” traditional hunters, whose presence in urban areas is  creating mistrust.

To the Guinean Social Movement:

8.  Prepare for the deployment of a national electoral observation mechanism  inspired from the one implemented during the 2012 presidential election in  Senegal.

To the international partners of Guinea:

9.  Mobilise and support international and non-governmental organisations  involved in the electoral process to reinforce the credibility of the polls, including by:

a) supporting the Guinean Social Movement in the establishment of an  electoral observation mechanism.

b) preparing local representatives of the different parties within INEC and  its sub-structures, as well as magistrates, to the management of disputes that  will no doubt emerge in the course of the electoral process.

Human Rights Watch Makes the Case Why International Community Needs to Step Up on September 28 Massacre and Rape Case (EN-FR)

Claude Pivi, Guinean Minister of Presidential Security and a Primary Perpetrator of the September 28 Massacre and Rapes
Claude Pivi, Guinean Minister of Presidential Security and a Primary Perpetrator of the September 28 Massacre and Rapes

Of all the international human rights organizations, only Human Rights Watch (HRW) has kept a constant, close eye on Guinea beginning with the September 28, 2009 massacre and rapes to the state-sponsored violence during the 2010 presidential campaign and during this most recent period of Alpha Conde’s stunning governance of impunity. It has been three years since the massacre and Guinea has clearly demonstrated that it meets the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) criteria for the ICC to take the case over — it is” unable or unwilling to prosecute the case.” In the September 28 case, both of these conditions apply.

In February 2012, Fatou Bensouda, who would become the Head Prosecutor at the ICC four months later, paid Alpha Conde and other government officials a visit to deliver a stern message: either Guinea get on with the investigation and prosecution of the case, or the ICC would take it over. That was ten months ago. And, now it is Human Rights Watch’s turn to bang the Guinean government over the head. HRW has been consistent in calling for the international community to pressure the Guinean government to conduct and conclude an investigation. This is important because the international community has much to do with whether the case goes to the ICC. But, the international community is loathe to apply pressure on Guinea about the case and unlikely to call for a transfer to the ICC. Why? The massacre and rapes of September 28 were committed by Guinean state security officers under orders of the ruling junta headed by Dadis Camara. If Guinea were to engage in a bald-faced investigation, it would lead directly to both civilian and military men who sit as members of Conde’s cabinet and others in high positions of the Guinean government. The international community is reluctant to go out on such a limb. During the 2010 election, the gross fraud and brutal violence, aimed at disenfranchising Peuls, were committed under the orders of interim president, General Sekouba Konate, and accomplished with little objection by the international community. Why should the September 28 case be any different? In both cases the international community was not willing to upset Guinea’s lucrative mining cart to stand up for the rule of law and human rights. Prosecuting military men for gross crimes would only raise the ire of all security forces who might be inclined to destabilize the country, negatively affecting business investment.

HRW knows this case belongs at the ICC and its report on what Guinea is not doing concerning the case, is one of the rungs that must be climbed to point it in the direction of the Hague.

But, this won’t happen unless citizens in the EU, France, and US apply pressure to their governments demanding that it be done.

If there is any doubt that Guinea is stalling on this case, this should clear it up – the Guinean court dealing with the September 28 case was shut down between May and September this year (after Bensouda’s personally-delivered ultimatum) because of lack of pencils, pens, paper and furniture. With all of Guinea’s mining revenue and Conde can’t come up with a few office supplies?

Guinea: Step Up Efforts to Ensure Justice for Stadium Massacre
Important Test Case for International Community to Promote Domestic Accountability

December 5, 2012

Related Materials:

Waiting for Justice

Bloody Monday

Victims of the horrific abuses on September 28, 2009, are waiting for justice more than three years later. President Alpha Condé and other Guinean officials have said they support accountability, but they need to better translate the rhetoric into action. Credible prosecutions would be a major contribution in moving Guinea to an era marked by respect for rule of law.

Elise Keppler, senior international justice counsel

(Conakry) – The Guinean government should increase support to the domestic investigation of the September 28, 2009 massacre, rapes, and other abuses to enable fair, credible prosecutions of the crimes without further delay, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The conclusion is based on extensive research and analysis of the factors holding up the investigation. International partners – including the European Union (EU), United States, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – also should increase pressure and support for justice to be done.
The 58-page report, “Waiting for Justice: Accountability before Guinea’s Courts for the September 28, 2009 Stadium Massacre, Rapes, and Other Abuses,” analyzes Guinea’s efforts to hold those responsible for the crimes to account. On that day, several hundred members of Guinea’s security forces burst into a stadium in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, and opened fire on tens of thousands of opposition supporters peacefully gathered there. By late afternoon, at least 150 Guineans lay dead or dying, and dozens of women had suffered brutal sexual violence, including individual and gang rape. More than three years later, those implicated have yet to be held accountable.
“Victims of the horrific abuses on September 28, 2009, are waiting for justice more than three years later,” said Elise Keppler, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch. “President Alpha Condé and other Guinean officials have said they support accountability, but they need to better translate the rhetoric into action. Credible prosecutions would be a major contribution in moving Guinea to an era marked by respect for rule of law.”
The report is based on research in Conakry in June 2012 and follow-up interviews with government officials, lawyers and other legal practitioners, civil society members, journalists, victims, and internationalpartners.
Cases involving serious crimes are often sensitive and need resources that are scarce, Human Rights Watch said. But lack of justice can carry high costs by potentially fueling renewed abuses that are devastating for the population and national development. Impunity for human rights violations has been a persistent problem in Guinea over decades.
In February 2010, a Guinean prosecutor appointed a panel of judges to investigate the crimes.
More than 200 victims have been interviewed, and charges have been filed against at least seven people, including Guinea’s minister in charge of fighting drug trafficking and organized crime and the health minister at the time of the crimes. The Guinean government also recently accepted the appointment of an international expert offered by the United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict to support the accountability effort.
However, the investigation has yet to be completed more than three years after the crimes were committed, and numerous victims have yet to be given an opportunity to provide statements to the judges. The judges also have yet to interview at least two key suspects – the president at the time the crimes were committed, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, and Captain Claude “Coplan” Pivi – and witnesses who are not suspects who are members of Guinea’s security services.

In 2011 and 2012, Guinea’s Justice Ministry took upward of a year to begin to address the investigative panel’s lack of basic supplies, including pens and paper, and equipment. As a result, the work of the panel was effectively halted from May to September 2012, after which the judges resumed work when an additional stipend and computer were provided. Limited security, competing professional responsibilities, and the fact that key suspects have not been placed on leave from government posts pose additional challenges.

In addition, Guinean judicial police have yet to provide the judges access to an identified possible mass grave, and a request by the judges to interview the former president in Burkina Faso about the crimes remains outstanding. Meanwhile, some suspects have already been in pretrial detention longer than the two years permitted by Guinean law.

“The investigation has made some important strides, but the Guinean government needs to provide greater support if it is to be successfully concluded,” Keppler said.

Human Rights Watch called for the Guinean government – the president and justice minister in particular – to meet a number of key benchmarks to ensure that the panel of investigative judges can operate effectively. The government should make sure the judges have adequate resources and security; facilitate the appointment of relevant international experts; place key suspects on leave from their government posts, especially where they could interfere with investigations; and work to enable them to interview former President Dadis Camara.

In addition, the judges should swiftly deal with any illegal pretrial detention of suspects, bringing those who need to remain in pretrial detention to speedy trial and releasing any others. The justice minister also should initiate a witness and victim protection and support plan and support law reform, including making crimes against humanity domestic crimes and abolishing the death penalty.

The report also calls for greater international support for fair and credible prosecutions for the September 28 crimes.

The report found that the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict have made vital contributions in pressing for justice for the September 28, 2009 crimes. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also has raised concerns and provided some informal supplies to the judges, but it should take a more active role in pressing the government to ensure that the investigative panel can function effectively.

Key governments and intergovernmental players – including the EU, US, and France – should substantially increase public and private diplomacy with Guinean officials to press for justice and ensure that judges can work effectively. In addition, these players should invite requests for financial and technical assistance for efforts such as witness and victim protection and support, forensic investigation, training, and law reform. International partners do not appear to be providing any direct support for investigating and prosecuting the September 28 crimes.

ICC states parties and the United Nations notably have increasingly expressed commitments to identify ways to help promote accountability before domestic courts. This would maximize what the ICC calls complementarity, whereby the court only intervenes when national courts are unable or unwilling to prosecute. Accountability efforts in Guinea provide an important opportunity to advance this goal, Human Rights Watch said.

In October 2009, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor placed the situation in Guinea – which had joined the ICC in 2003 – under preliminary examination.

Some Guinean civil society and victims have indicated that they are waiting for the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into the September 28, 2009 crimes so that those responsible can be held to account.

Whether the ICC may open an investigation in Guinea is an open question under the ICC’s complementarity principle. But even if the ICC were to open an investigation, its scope would be limited since it is based thousands of miles away in the Netherlands, and only focuses on suspects with greatest alleged levels of responsibility, and on genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

“Guinea’s domestic investigation is a potentially important test case for the international community to help ensure accountability at the domestic level,” Keppler said. “Guinea’s international partners should use encouragement, pressure, and support to maximize its prospects to provide justice for the stadium massacre.”

Also available in French.

Human Rights Watch Press Conf. to Report on Why Guinean Gov’t. is Stalling on Prosecution of Those Responsible for Sept. 28 Attack: Conakry, House of the Press, Wed. 12/5, 10AM

Sept. 28, 2009, two Guinean women try to find their relatives after massive attack by Guinea security services against opposition protesters..These women, as well as thousands of others, want justice which is long overdue..
Sept. 28, 2009, two Guinean women try to find their relatives after massive attack by Guinea security services against opposition protesters..These women, as well as thousands of others, want justice which is long overdue..

Once again, kudos to Human Rights Watch for staying on the case.

Invitation to a press conference


Guinea: Waiting for justice

It is necessary to bring before Guinean courts those responsible for the massacre, rape and other abuses perpetrated in the stadium 28 September 2009


Human Rights Watch is pleased to invite you to a press conference in Conakry, December 5, 2012 at 10:00 am to present a new report entitled Guinea “Waiting for justice.” In this report, Human Rights Watch examines the efforts by Guinea to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes September 28, 2009. The report explores the reasons why justice is so important in the Guinean context and identifies some of the main factors that have contributed to the slow progress of the investigation of the September 28, 2009. In addition, the report establishes criteria that the government should meet to ensure that the perpetrators of the September 28, 2009 are brought to justice, and makes recommendations to key international actors, including the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and France to promote fair and credible proceedings against persons involved in crimes.


Subject: Launch of new report by Human Rights Watch


Speakers: Elise Keppler, senior lawyer at the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch


With the participation of:
Christian Sow, Minister of Justice (Guest)


Asmaou Diallo, Presidente of the Association of victims, relatives and friends September 28, 2009, AVIPA


I Hamidou Barry Guinean Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights and the Citizen OGDH


Date and Time: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
10:00
Location: House of the Press


For more information, please contact:
In Conakry, Elise Keppler: +224-63-29-26-81 (portable) or kepplee@hrw.org

In Conakry, Marianna Enamoneta: +224-67-29-26-81 (portable) or enamonm@hrw.org
For other research conducted by Human Rights Watch on Guinea, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/fr/africa/guinea

*** Invitation à une conférence de presse ***

Guinée : En attente de justice

La nécessaire traduction devant les tribunaux guinéens des responsables du massacre, des viols et autres exactions perpétrés dans le stade le 28 septembre 2009

Human Rights Watch a le plaisir de vous inviter à une conférence de presse à Conakry, le 5 décembre 2012 à 10h00 afin de présenter son nouveau rapport Guinée intitulé « En attente de justice ». Dans le présent rapport, Human Rights Watch analyse les efforts déployés par la Guinée pour traduire en justice les auteurs des crimes perpétrés le 28 septembre 2009. Le rapport explore les raisons pour lesquelles la justice est si importante dans le contexte guinéen et identifie quelques-uns des principaux facteurs qui ont contribué à une lente progression de l’enquête du 28 septembre 2009. De plus, le rapport établit des critères que le gouvernement devrait satisfaire pour faire en sorte que les auteurs des crimes du 28 septembre 2009 soient traduits en justice, et formule des recommandations aux acteurs internationaux clés, notamment les Nations Unies, l’Union européenne, les États-Unis et la France afin de promouvoir des poursuites équitables et crédibles à l’encontre des personnes impliquées dans des crimes.

Sujet: Lancement du nouveau rapport de Human Rights Watch

Intervenants: Elise Keppler, juriste senior au Programme de Justice internationale de Human Rights Watch

Avec la participation de :

Christian Sow, Ministre de la Justice (Invité)

Asmaou Diallo, Presidente de l’Association des victimes, parents et amis

du 28 septembre 2009, AVIPA

Me Hamidou Barry, Organisation guinéenne de défense des droits de l’homme et du citoyen, OGDH

Date et heure: Mercredi 5 décembre, 2012

10h00

Lieu: Maison de la presse

Pour plus d’informations, veuillez contacter:

À Conakry, Elise Keppler: +224-63-29-26-81 (portable); ou kepplee@hrw.org

À Conakry, Marianna Enamoneta: +224-67-29-26-81 (portable); ou enamonm@hrw.org

Pour consulter d’autres recherches effectuées par Human Rights Watch sur la Guinée, veuillez consulter : http://www.hrw.org/fr/africa/guinea