30 October 2009 Three prominent jurists will form the international commission of inquiry to probe last month’s violent crackdown on unarmed demonstrators in Guinea that led to the deaths of at least 150 people and the rape of many others, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today.
The three members of the body will travel to New York shortly to meet with him, followed by visits to Geneva and Guinea to carry out their work, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.
Mohamed Bedjaoui of Algeria will chair the commission. He has served as his country’s foreign minister and as ambassador to France and the United Nations, among other posts. He has also served as a judge on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and as president of Algeria’s highest judicial authority, the Constitutional Council.
Françoise Ngendahyo Kayiramirwa is Burundi’s former minister of national solidarity, human rights and gender, as well as a former minister for the repatriation of internally displaced persons (IDPs). She has also served as an adviser on gender issues and assistance to victims with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
Rounding out the commission is barrister-at-law Pramila Patten of Mauritius, a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. She has published extensively in the area of violence against women and children’s rights.
The Secretary-General said earlier this month, when announcing the creation of the body, that it will investigate the events of 28 September in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, “with a view to determining the accountability of those involved.”
He also said at the time that he expects the commission should be able to complete its work within a month once it is in the field.
According to the UN, there is broad support for the commission among Guinean stakeholders, and Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who seized power in a coup d’état in December after the death of then president Lansana Conté, invited it to begin work as soon as possible to help establish the truth about what took place on 28 September.
Its establishment came on the heels of the announcement by the Prosecutor’s Office at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague that it had initiated a preliminary examination of whether the crackdown falls under the jurisdiction of the court, which tries people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said information received indicated that “women were abused or otherwise brutalized on the pitch in Conakry’s stadium, apparently by men in uniform… This is appalling, unacceptable. It must never happen again.”
Security forces opened fire on the demonstrators and also raped many of the protesters and looted the homes of opposition leaders in what High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has described as a “blood bath.”
On Wednesday, the Security Council repeated its call on Guinean authorities to charge and try the perpetrators of last month’s deadly crackdown, warning that the situation might pose a risk to regional peace.
Beyond the deaths and injuries that resulted from the crackdown in Conakry, the presidential statement read out by Ambassador Le Luong Minh of Viet Nam, which holds this month’s presidency, cited “other blatant violations of human rights including numerous rapes and sexual crimes against women, as well as the arbitrary arrest of peaceful demonstrators and opposition party leaders.”
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