Conakry — No one has yet been tried for Guinea's stadium massacre of September 28, in which at least 156 opposition supporters were killed and more than a hundred women were raped, five human rights organizations said today. The organizations are the Association of Victims, Parents and Friends of the September 28 Massacre (AVIPA), the Guinean Human Rights Organization (OGDH), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch.
While the investigation has been completed since the end of 2017, it is imperative that the judges be appointed and a timetable be established. These are the conditions for this emblematic trial to open in 2019 and for the 13 defendants - three of whom have been detained beyond the legal limits - to finally be tried.
On April 9, 2018, Justice Minister Cheick Sako set up a steering committee tasked with the practical organization of the trial. It should adopt a clear roadmap as soon as possible, in order to move ahead efficiently toward the trial.
Although the committee was supposed to meet once a week, it has only met twice in six months, raising doubts about the imminent prospect of a trial. Yet the trial is within reach and several international donors maintain they are ready to support it, the organizations said.
"People have been killed, women have been raped, and, for the first time in Guinea's history, members of the security forces have been indicted," said Asmaou Diallo, president of AVIPA. "There is no longer any reason not to move swiftly toward a trial. But without political support for the work undertaken by the justice ministry, the case risks getting stalled. Yet the victims, their families, and the whole Guinean population have been waiting for it for almost 10 years."
The organizations are urging the steering committee to hold weekly meetings as specified in the decree that set it up, rapidly determine the location of the trial, its budget, and its support needs, and establish logistical and security procedures. In particular, the committee should take appropriate measures for the participation of former junta leader Dadis Camara, who has been charged in this case and who has always said he would participate in the trial though he is in exile in Burkina Faso. At the same time, experienced judges should be appointed without delay in order to begin working on this major case.
While these operational steps can be dealt with quickly, the trial requires political support at the highest level in order to guarantee strong and impartial justice, given the real or perceived risks of influence by certain defendants who still hold government positions.
"Trying acts of political violence is no longer taboo in Guinea," said Abdoul Gadiry Diallo, president of OGDH. "The process of uncovering the painful past has shown that Guinean society is expecting the perpetrators of the most recent and egregious political crimes to be tried and wants to put an end to the total impunity that protected perpetrators of grave human rights violations for decades. It is now time to open a new chapter and for both the victims and the alleged perpetrators of the crimes committed in the stadium on September 28, 2009 to have their day in court."