Statement of ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on pre-election violence and growing ethnic tensions: “Guinea can and must demonstrate its will and ability both to combat impunity and to prevent renewed cycles of violence.”
Guinea is a State Party to the Rome Statute. As Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court"), I am deeply concerned about recent developments in the country.
At the approach of the presidential election to be held on 18 October 2020, I note with great concern recent reports of violence between supporters of the different candidates, and violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces. These recurring episodes of election-related violence are deplorable. They contribute to perpetuating cycles of violence in Guinea. This cycle of violence must end.
I particularly condemn the use of inflammatory rhetoric by some political actors during their electoral campaign, leading to growing ethnic tensions among the people of Guinea. Political leaders are not only obliged to ensure that the electoral process takes place in a transparent and peaceful manner, but are also responsible for preventing and discouraging their supporters from resorting to any type of violence before, during and after the election day.
As in previous elections, where similar episodes of violence broke out, I call for calm and restraint from all political actors and their supporters. Disputes between candidates should be resolved by the competent authorities and in full observance of the law. In this respect, I wish to repeat this important reminder: anyone who commits, orders, incites, encourages or contributes, in any other way, to the commission of Rome Statute crimes, is liable to prosecution either by Guinean courts or by the ICC.
Furthermore, on the occasion of the recent eleventh anniversary of the 28 September 2009 events, I wish to assure the victims of these tragic events and their families that we are not idly standing by. My Office continues to insist that the authorities organise the trial of the accused swiftly.
I restate my support to the Guinean authorities to hold the perpetrators of these tragic events accountable, and stand ready to support the domestic endeavours to guarantee a fair and impartial trial. However, if such efforts, long overdue, fail to materialise, then it is also my obligation to request the opening of an investigation by my Office in the independent and impartial exercise of my mandate under the Statute.
It has always been my belief that carrying out genuine national proceedings, close to the victims and affected communities, has the potential to contribute to the two overreaching goals of the Rome Statute: ending impunity, and preventing the recurrence of the most serious crimes.
However, at the current stage of proceedings, while I understand the serious constraints caused by the Covid-19 pandemic on the Guinean judicial system, I must insist that neither the recurrent setbacks in the material organisation of the trial, nor the current political context, should be used as a pretext to prevent the opening of this long-awaited trial.
In the coming months, Guinea can and must demonstrate its will and ability both to combat impunity and to prevent renewed cycles of violence.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC's jurisdiction, namely in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d'Ivoire; Mali; Georgia, Burundi Bangladesh/Myanmar and Afghanistan (subject to a pending article 18 deferral request). The Office is also currently conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Bolivia; Colombia; Guinea; Iraq/UK; the Philippines; Nigeria; Ukraine; and Venezuela (I and II), while the situation in Palestine is pending a judicial ruling.