The U.N. Security Council expressed broad support Wednesday for
establishing an independent commission of inquiry to investigate
alleged human rights violations in Guinea last month during an
anti-government protest that turned deadly.
Human rights groups and witnesses say that that during the September 28 rally in a stadium in the capital, Conakry, protesters were shot, stabbed, raped and beaten. They say at least 157 people were killed, a figure the government says is inflated.
Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced he would establish an international commision of inquiry to investigate the incidents and to hold the perpetrators accountable. He dispatched one of his senior officials, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Haile Menkarios, to Conakry to pursue setting up the commission.
On Wednesday, Menkarios reported his findings to the Security Council in a closed-door session. Afterwards, he told reporters that Guinea's military ruler, Captain Moussa "Dadis" Camara has agreed to cooperate with the commission once it is created.
"Both President Dadis Camara and his government - the prime minister we met also - welcomed the establishment of the commission of inquiry and promised that they were going to, not only cooperate with it fully, including facilitate its work. And they have expressed this in a written letter," said Menkarios.
Menkarios said regional officials from the African Union and ECOWAS as well as Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, who is mediating among the parties, also support the establishment of a commission, saying it will contribute to peace and longer-term reconciliation in Guinea.
"There is tremendous, of course, expectation and support for the deployment of the commission by the victims, by representatives of the opposition, [and] by the public in Guinea," said Menkarios.
He said the U.N. secretary-general wants the members of the commission selected and the panel deployed as soon as possible. Menkarios did not know how long that would take. But speculated that once on the ground, their investigation could be complete within a month.
France's U.N. ambassador, Gerard Araud, said his delegation would draft a statement of support to be agreed to by the Security Council.
"The Security Council today expressed very wide support to this idea of a creation of a commission of inquiry," he said. "Some questions were, of course, raised, but there was no opposition. We have also expressed, of course, our support to the work of our African friends, especially President Compaore."
Captain Camara has been under intense international scrutiny over the deadly protest, which was in response to his suggestion that he might break a pledge not to run in next year's presidential elections.
African condemnation has been strong. West African states recently imposed an arms embargo on Guinea and the African Union has threatened further sanctions over last month's violence.