HRW wants justice for Guinea massacre

Conakry – Human Rights Watch called Thursday on Guinean authorities to support an inquiry into a 2009 massacre when troops killed some 160 civilians and raped others in the capital Conakry.

On September 28, 2009, thousands of opponents of a military regime gathered in a Conakry stadium to demonstrate against the candidature of the junta leader, Moussa Dadis Camara, in presidential elections.

Security forces entered the stadium and opened fire, while also beating people and raping women. The toll was at least 157 dead, hundreds wounded, 131 women who notified being raped and 84 missing.

“Hundreds of victims of the 2009 massacre, rapes, and other abuses by security forces in Guinea have yet to see justice done,” HRW said on the eve of the attacks’ third anniversary, while adding the attacks likely rose to the level of crimes against humanity.

“The Guinean government should increase support for the domestic investigation of the crimes so that those responsible can be held to account without further delay.”

Elise Keppler, senior international justice counsel with HRW, said victims and loved ones of those killed have yet to see justice.

“Moreover, the persistent failure of the government to hold human rights violators to account over decades of repressive rule in Guinea has fuelled further abuses.”

But HRW did note that in February 2010, a domestic panel of judges was appointed to investigate the stadium massacre and it said the panel had made “some important strides” in the investigation, including interviewing more than 200 victims and filing charges against at least seven people in connection.

Those charged include Moussa Tiegboro Camara, Guinea’s current minister in charge of fighting drug trafficking and organized crimes, and, more recently, Colonel Abdoulaye Cherif Diaby, who was Guinea’s health minister on September 28, 2009.

But the report found that two years later, “possible mass graves have yet to be investigated” and the panel has yet to question “Moussa Dadis Camara, who was president at the time, and Captain Claude ‘Coplan’ Pivi, who was the minister of presidential security at the time and continues to hold that post.”

“Guinea is sending a terrible signal to victims by allowing key suspects to remain in government posts where they can influence the investigation,” Keppler said.

In Conakry, the victims’ association has announced it will commemorate the massacre with prayers and readings from the Koran.

The opposition is also planning prayers at the grand mosque in memory of the victims, as well as prayers for two youths shot dead by police during a raid last week.

A funeral procession will leave from the mosque to the cemetery to bury the two youths. – Sapa-AFP

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