Guinea torture victims thirst for justice

“I reiterate my call that Guinea must end the culture of impunity. Currently, perpetrators of the most serious crimes remain free and undeterred due to the lack of an independent judicial system and security forces,” said Pillay. She urged the Government of Guinea to investigate and prosecute human rights violations in order to send a strong message to perpetrators of abuses.

UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay listens to an Ivorian refugee in Guinea © OHCHR PhotoThe UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is on her first official mission to West Africa, visiting Guinea from 13-15 March and Senegal from 15-18 March.

At a meeting with victims of torture in Guinea, the High Commissioner said she was encouraged by “their thirst for justice.”   An International Commission was set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to investigate the facts and circumstances of events on 28 September 2009. The Commission found that 156 people died, more than a hundred women were sexually violated and hundreds more were tortured by security agents. 

The High Commissioner expressed concern over mass graves that cannot be accessed because of construction. She recommended a monument be put up in memory of those who were killed.

During her visit to the country Pillay met with President Alpha Condé and other government officials including the Minister for Justice, Christian Sow, who committed to the reform of the judicial system and the security sector, and to setting up a National Commission on Truth, Justice and Reconciliation.

Also in Guinea, the High Commissioner met with Ivorian refugees who have fled violence in their home country following the political stalemate over presidential election results last year. The UN High Commissioner assured them that the world has not forgotten the conflict there. 

“This problem is not of the making of the people of Côte d’Ivoire. This is a dispute between two politicians on the election results. The one who lost is now raking violence on the population – and this to me is an area that needs international attention because the people cannot defend themselves under such a situation,” Pillay said.
She reiterated her caution to the Ivorian leadership and security apparatus that “their acts of violence against the civilian population will amount to crimes against humanity,” she said.

The High Commissioner is now visiting Senegal where she will conclude her first mission to West Africa. During her three-day visit she signed the extension of the Host Country Agreement through which the OHCHR regional office was established. In Senegal she is scheduled to meet President Abdoulaye Wade, government officials and members of civil society.

Pillay also met victims of torture from 17 African countries at a rehabilitation centre, VIVRE-CAPREC, situated in the outskirts of Dakar. The centre is funded by OHCHR through the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

17 March 2011