UN Report Echoes NGO Analysis of September Massacre in Guinea

December 22, 2009

Yesterday, a United Nations panel, commissioned in October to investigate the September 28th massacre in Guinea, released their report on what really happened that day. The report echoes what NGOs have been saying all along, identifying at least 156 people who died that day and at least 109 women and girls who were subjected to sexual violence, including rape, sexual mutilation or kidnap for repeated rape.

Up until now, the military junta in power in Guinea has denied these figures, saying that fewer than 60 people were killed that day and ignoring local and international NGOs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, whose investigations have shown the numbers of casualties to be much higher. But this new UN report will make it hard for them to continue denying the true horrors of that day.

The report argues that three specific people are directly responsible for the violence of September 28th: Captain Camara, the leader of the military junta; Lieutenant Aboubacar Cherif Diakite, Camara’s aide-de-camp and chief of the Presidential Guard; and another officer, Moussa Thegboro Camara. Which is ironic, since Diakite recently tried to kill Captain Camara, saying that Camara was trying to hold him responsible for the massacre.

Most importantly, the report calls for the referral of these three individuals to the International Criminal Court to be tried for crimes against humanity. Because Guinea is a signatory to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, the court’s prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo does not have to wait for a referral from the UN Security Council to open an investigation. And Ocampo already has a head start: he began a preliminary examination back in October after he received information, including pictures, about what had happened.

This report is a positive step in the quest for justice for the victims of Captain Camara’s regime. Already, the European Union has responded by increasing its sanctions on the military junta, adding to its existing arms embargo an assets freeze and an export ban on equipment that could potentially be used for state repression, as well as adding additional names to its travel ban. Hopefully, other nations will follow suit and ensure that the reign of impunity in Guinea ends now, including by supporting an ICC investigation.