News / Africa

    HRW Working to Bolster Human Rights in Guinea

    A September 28, 2009 photo shows Guinean demonstrators fleeing as security forces disperse them from outside the stadium where tens of thousands gathered for a pro-democracy rally, in Conakry. Security forces loyal to the ruling military junta opened fire on the crowd that day, killing at least 157 and raping dozens of women.
    A September 28, 2009 photo shows Guinean demonstrators fleeing as security forces disperse them from outside the stadium where tens of thousands gathered for a pro-democracy rally, in Conakry. Security forces loyal to the ruling military junta opened fire on the crowd that day, killing at least 157 and raping dozens of women.
    Nancy Palus
    Survivors of the 2009 stadium massacre in the West African country of Guinea have yet to see any of their alleged assailants brought to justice. Human Rights Watch said the international community could do more to ensure that Guinea lives up to the commitment it has made to prosecute those responsible for hundreds of rapes and killings that day.

    A couple of weeks before she died in October this year, Aissatou Bailo Diallo - who was raped during Guinea’s 2009 stadium attack - said her appeal to the international community was simply: “Justice, and the truth.”

    She was among the many people still suffering health problems from the rapes and beatings that took place when soldiers cracked down on demonstrators at a stadium in the capital, Conakry, on September 28.  Survivors are still waiting for justice.

    Judicial process

    Human Rights Watch is researching the status of the judicial process in Guinea and on Wednesday released its latest report in Conakry.

    In the wake of the stadium attack, the International Criminal Court said it would step in if Guinea did not investigate and prosecute the stadium crimes. Guinea’s government then created a panel of judges and committed itself to doing so. But after three years, scores of victims have yet to be heard by the judges and no one has been convicted.

    HRW says countries party to the ICC are increasingly looking at ways to ensure that justice be carried out at a national level. Guinea is a test.

    Elise Keppler is senior counsel with Human Rights Watch’s international justice program.

    "Guinea is in a way a test case for that possibility," said Keppler. "And, it’s an important moment where international partners can be looking to what can they do to help ensure fair, credible prosecutions at the domestic level for these crimes."

    She cited the United States, France, the European Union, the United Nations and other international actors, who are working closely with Guinea as it makes a transition from years of autocratic rule to democracy and the rule of law.  Keppler said Guinea presents an opportunity to promote the International Criminal Court's principle that national courts should be the first line of defense against impunity.

    Human Rights Watch says the U.N. human rights office, which now has a representative in Guinea, should take a more active role in pressing the government to ensure the national investigators can function effectively. The group also said other international actors "should substantially increase public and private diplomacy with Guinean officials to press for justice".

    To date judges have heard testimony from 278 victims, according to Hamidou Barry, a Guinean lawyer who’s with the Guinea Human Rights Organization. Human Rights Watch said at least 100 people await their chance to testify.

    Human Rights Watch said a number of obstacles remain, including a lack of independence in Guinea’s judicial sector, inadequate resources for judges and a lack of protection for victims and witnesses.

    Although some Guineans say, given how long the process is taking, they want to see the ICC step in. Guinean lawyer Barry said it would be better for all concerned if justice worked at the national level.

    He said victims want to see justice carried out in Guinea. He said bringing perpetrators to justice here in Guinea will deal a blow to impunity and would lend credibility to the national judicial system.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora