In a letter dated 28 October 2009, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, informed the members of the Security Council of his decision to establish an international commission of inquiry mandated to establish the facts and circumstances of the events of 28 September 2009 in Guinea and the related events in their immediate aftermath, qualify the crimes perpetrated, determine responsibilities, identify those responsible, where possible, and make recommendations.
During its inquiry, the Commission interviewed the President of the Republic of Guinea and several representatives of his Government. It met with 687 persons, in Conakry and Dakar.
The Commission is in a position to confirm the identity of 156 persons who were killed or who disappeared: 67 persons killed whose bodies were returned to their families, 40 persons who were seen dead in the stadium or in morgues but whose bodies have disappeared, and 49 persons who were seen in the stadium but whose fate is unknown. It confirms that at least 109 women were subjected to rape and other sexual violence, including sexual mutilation and sexual slavery. Several women died of their wounds following particularly cruel sexual attacks. The Commission also confirms hundreds of other cases of torture or of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Dozens of persons were arrested and arbitrarily detained in the military camps of Alpha Yaya Diallo and Kundara and in the barracks of the riot police (CMIS), where they were tortured. The security forces also systematically stole demonstrators’ property and engaged in looting. The Commission considers that, during the abuses on 28 September and the immediate aftermath, the Guinean authorities deliberately embarked on destruction of the traces of the violations committed, with the aim of concealing the facts:
• cleaning of the stadium
• removal of the bodies of the victims of executions
• burial in mass graves
• denial of medical care to victims
• deliberate alteration of medical records and military take-over of hospitals and morgues.
This operation created a climate of fear and insecurity among the population. The Commission therefore believes that the number of victims of all these violations is quite probably higher.
The Guinean Government has provided utterly contradictory versions of the events, on the one hand stating that the security forces present were too few to have committed so many abuses and on the other hand blaming the political leaders who provoked the reaction by the army. The authorities denied any possibility of rape or other sexual violence, claiming that such acts could not be committed in a public place and in a period of 10 to 20 minutes, corresponding to the official version of the duration of the events in the stadium. They acknowledge a total of 63 dead and at least 1,399 wounded, and the hospitals state that they treated at least 33 women who had been raped during the events.
In response to the events, the Government established a National Commission of Inquiry. Its strong-arm tactics, and particularly those of its military wing, seem to intimidate witnesses rather than encouraging them to come forward.
The Commission concludes that Guinea violated several provisions of the international human rights conventions ratified by it.
The Commission believes that it is reasonable to conclude that the crimes perpetrated on 28 September 2009 and in the immediate aftermath can be described as crimes against humanity. These crimes are part of a widespread and systematic attack launched by the Presidential Guard, the police responsible for combating drug trafficking and organized crime and the militia, among others, against the civilian population. The Commission also concludes that there are sufficient grounds for assuming criminal responsibility on the part of certain persons named in the report, either directly or as a military commander or supervisor. The Commission’s recommendations include the following:
In order to prevent the situation in Guinea from degenerating, it recommends that the Security Council should remain seized of the situation in that country and that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should open one of its offices there, at least for 2010.
In order to remedy domestic institutional deficiencies, it recommends that national and international agencies should consider all possible measures to help Guinea to reform its army and its judiciary. It also recommends that Guinea should undertake a truth-seeking exercise in order to shed light on its painful past.
As regards the events of 28 September, it recommends that the Guinean Government should be strongly urged to provide the families concerned with all relevant information on the case of persons who have disappeared, that the International Criminal Court should be asked to investigate the persons alleged to have committed crimes against humanity, that adequate reparation should be made to the victims and that targeted sanctions should be imposed against the principal perpetrators of the violations.
The Commission reminds the Guinean Government of its commitments and obligations regarding the protection of victims or witnesses, and in particular those who cooperated with the Commission. Lastly, it recommends that all States which are in a position to do so should, following the rules of international law on asylum, admit any victim or witness who is in danger.
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