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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs