Authorities in the West African nation of Guinea have handed down the first rape charges against a security official allegedly involved in the September 2009 massacre at a stadium in the capital, Conakry. But the head of a local victims’ organization says the indictment is no guarantee that justice will be done in the case.
Guinea’s stadium massacre occurred during a pro-democracy demonstration on September 28, 2009. At about 11:30 that morning, security forces loyal to the former military junta stormed the stadium, opening fire on tens of thousands of demonstrators and killing around 150 of them, according to Human Rights Watch.
The massacre was marked by brutal instances of sexual violence. A United Nations inquiry found there were at least 109 victims of rape on or in the days following the massacre. Some women were taken to private residences and gang raped for up to five days, a separate Human Rights Watch inquiry found.
Although several officials have been charged in connection with the massacre, none had been accused of rape before the indictment against a gendarme officer on April 30. The International Federation for Human Rights says the officer was questioned for several hours on Tuesday.
Asmaou Diallo, president of a victims’ association, says the arrest is a positive step. But she said Guinea’s judiciary still has to prove it is up to the task of trying cases related to the massacre.
“This is something that encourages us, but not too much, because sometimes justice doesn't produce the correct judgment," she said. "Sometimes we have a parody of justice. So I don't know what's going to happen.”
Diallo also said the lack of progress in other cases related to the massacre is cause for concern.
“There are other people who are charged, but the justice process hasn’t advanced for us," she said. "At our level, it's necessary that the justice continues on course -- not just arresting and charging people, but also handing down judgments.”
The International Federation for Human Rights says persistent impunity in Guinea could be a factor contributing to recent political unrest. Legislative polls are scheduled for June 30. The opposition has objected to the poll date, sparking protests in recent weeks that have resulted in several deaths.