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Guinea - 28 September Massacre

In December 2008, after the death of President Lansana Conté, who had ruled Guinea since 1984, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara led a group of army officers who seized power in a military coup. Moussa Dadis Camara became the Head of State, established a military junta, the Conseil national pour la démocratie et le développement (“CNDD”), and promised that the CNDD would hand over power to a civilian president upon the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections. However, subsequent statements that appeared to suggest that Captain Camara might run for president led to protests by the opposition and civil society groups.

Although key bilateral and multilateral partners condemned the coup, the Guinean population initially welcomed Captain Camara and the CNDD. By August 2009, many opposition leaders and citizens were increasingly concerned by Camara’s public statements, lack of progress on key issues, and his dictatorial tendencies. Although Camara still had some supporters, particularly in the Forest Region, citizens were generally optimistic about Konate’s leadership, the establishment of a civilian transitional government, and the promise of elections.

On 28 September 2009, the Independence Day of Guinea, an opposition gathering at the national stadium in Conakry was violently suppressed by the security forces, leading to what became known as the “28 September massacre”.

Impunity persisted for grave abuses perpetrated by state actors in years past, including security force killings of at least 150 opposition demonstrators and the rape of more than 100 women and girls in the 2009 stadium massacre. Only one person--a low-ranking gendarme--was tried and convicted of rape during the stadium massacre; four low-ranking military personnel arrested in 2010 remained in indefinite detention. Two of the indicted alleged ringleaders of the massacre--Colonel Claude Pivi and Colonel Moussa Tiegboro Camara--remained in high-level government posts. In addition General Mathurin Bangoura, another indictee, was named governor of Conakry. The stadium massacre inquiry commission made some progress in 2015 when the judges indicted former junta leader Dadis Camara, who resided in Burkina Faso and acknowledged moral--but not criminal--responsibility for the event. The timing of the indictment raised questions as it coincided with Camara’s meeting with the leader of the opposition. Aboubacar “Toumba” Diakite, another indicted alleged ringleader and Dadis Camara’s aide de camp, was not arrested by year’s end. The International Criminal Court, which continued its investigation into the 2009 stadium massacre, encouraged national authorities to investigate and try those responsible for crimes. Authorities took no action to exhume the bodies reportedly buried by security forces in mass graves.

In October 2009, the UN established an international commission of inquiry (“UN Commission”) to, inter alia, investigate the alleged gross human rights violations that took place on 28 September 2009 and, where possible, identify those responsible. In its final report of December 2009, the UN Commission confirmed that at least 156 persons were killed or disappeared, and at least 109 women were victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence, including sexual mutilations and sexual slavery. Cases of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment during arrests and arbitrary detentions, and attacks against civilians based on their perceived ethnic and/or political affiliation were also confirmed. The UN Commission considered that there was a strong presumption that crimes against humanity were committed and determined, where it could, possible individual responsibilities.

The Commission nationale d’enquête indépendante (“CNEI”), set up by the Guinean authorities, confirmed in its report issued in January 2010 that killings, rapes and enforced disappearances took place, although in slightly lower numbers than documented by the UN Commission. The 28 September 2009 events in the Conakry stadium can be characterised as a widespread and systematic attack directed against a civilian population, namely the demonstrators present at the stadium, in furtherance of the CNDD’s policy to prevent political opponents from, and punish them for, challenging Moussa Dadis Camara’s intention to keep his group and himself in power.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), which continued its investigation into the 2009 stadium massacre, encouraged national authorities to investigate and try those responsible for crimes. At least twice during the year 2015, transitional leader General Sekouba Konate met with the ICC in The Hague and gave the prosecutor a list of the names of 50 persons he said were responsible for the massacre.

By 2016 the panel of Guinean judges focussed on taking the investigative steps requested by legal representatives of victims as “parties civiles”. Since November 2015, the panel of judges had interviewed at least five high-ranking officials of the Guinean army as witnesses, and additional victims in Conakry and abroad. By 2016, at least 14 individuals have been indicted, including the former Head of State Moussa Dadis Camara and other former and current high-level officials. Over 400 victims, of which approximately 50 are victims of sexual crimes, had been heard by the panel of judges.

Guinean commander Toumba Diakité was formally charged 16 March 2017 with several counts by Guinean justice, a few days after his extradition in the capital, Conakry. He was accused of voluntary wounding, complicity in murder, rape and torture among others. Targeted by an international arrest warrant for his alleged involvement in the military massacre of more than 150 opponents in 2009 at Conakry, he was arrested on December 16, 2016 in Senegal, then extradited to Guinea on March 12.

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