On May 4, 2022, the Attorney General of Conakry instructed the Public Prosecutor at the Dixinn Court of First Instance to initiate proceedings without delay against the former Guinean President Alpha Condé and against former senior officials of his diet. This decision expressly follows the denunciation that we had sent on behalf of the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), a citizens’ movement created on April 3, 2019. This particularly documented report concerned the repression against the political opposition, which had intensified in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and during protests against the third term.
Even if we must remain cautious, these prosecutions mark an encouraging turning point in a legal battle waged for several years so that investigations are carried out into the crimes likely to have been committed during the reign of Alpha Condé. It is an understatement to say, in fact, that the victims of abuses are waiting for the justice of their country to act, in the hope that these actions will not go unpunished and that the whole truth will come to light.
NGOs have established that members of civil society, journalists and human rights defenders have suffered arbitrary arrests
In 2013, the legislative elections had already been marked by renewed tensions between opponents and supporters of the power in place. This violence escalated in the face of Alpha Condé’s desire to run for a third term, in violation of the Constitution. ECOWAS, the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, France and the African Union had condemned the violence by calling for appeasement – in vain. NGO reports have also established that members of civil society, journalists and human rights defenders have suffered arbitrary arrests.
Demonstrations organized by opponents of the third term were almost systematically banned. Security forces have been ordered to use excessive force, causing many deaths and injuries among the civilian population. It is widely established that the Guinean state has violated its international commitments to protect human rights, including the right to life, the right to express one’s opinion, the right to demonstrate freely and peacefully, the freedom to go and come, and the absolute prohibition of any form of arbitrary detention.
In October 2020, an investigation by Amnesty International denounced the repression of the police during the demonstrations against the third term of Alpha Condé and counted 50 deaths in just one year. Such violence was made possible in particular by the use by the security forces of lethal weapons, even semi-automatic weapons qualified as “weapons of war” by international law.
Political and media pressure then eased slightly due to the global health crisis of Covid-19. However, violations of fundamental rights persisted, if not worsened. Despite certain reforms – including the abolition of the death penalty in 2017 – public and political freedoms have been seriously damaged by the government of Alpha Condé.
Despite the seriousness of the crimes committed, the security forces have almost never been prosecuted. The ruling class, on the other hand, was protected from any risk of legalization, justice being held tightly in the reins. In April 2020, more than two years ago, we sent a report to the International Criminal Court, denouncing this new spiral of violence likely to lead to even more dramatic crimes, like the acts committed by the junta. military on September 28, 2009 before the ICC. It was very quickly that a preliminary examination was ordered by the prosecutor’s office.
The political situation can still evolve and make the prospect of investigations chimerical
The dismissal of Alpha Condé has renewed hope that justice will take up the abuses committed. The announcement by the Attorney General of Conakry, Alphonse Charles Wright, is part of this hope. We would like to salute the efforts made and to reaffirm to him, as advisers to the FNDC, our support in his mission. It is however essential to maintain the greatest vigilance and to guard against any inappropriate euphoric feeling as well as any blank check. On the one hand, the political situation may still evolve and make the prospect of investigations fanciful, so it is essential to work to give justice the means to act independently. On the other hand, it would be deeply revolting if the opening of this investigation, which extends to the holding of certain demonstrations and the degradation of private or public buildings, to the attacks committed against the forces of order on the fringes of these same events, has the perverse effect of turning against the organizers of these events.
Especially since they were exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate and in this respect, a demonstration remains peaceful even if offenses are committed by a small group of people. We do not want to believe in the risk of such instrumentalization.
Guinean justice now has an appointment with its history and has the opportunity to set itself up as an example
Finally, let us remember that the jurisdiction of the Court can only be exercised in a subsidiary way, that is to say if the State is not already prosecuting the suspects. The prosecutions carried out by the Guinean courts are therefore also a message addressed to the ICC. This message is all the more timely given that the ICC is overloaded, particularly with the situation in Ukraine, and that it still faces criticism in relation to what the African Union described as “racial hunting” in 2013, being blamed to judge only Africans. Guinean justice now has an appointment with its history and has the opportunity to set itself up as an example. On the side of The Hague, we will carefully monitor the progress of the ongoing investigation.
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Guinea: hope for justice for the victims of the police under Alpha Condé – Jeune Afrique
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