Statement by ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC regarding the opening of the trial related to events of 28 September 2009 in Guinea, signature of Agreement with Transitional Government on complementarity and closure of the Preliminary Examination
I have just completed my mission to Guinea, during which I took part in an important day, a day in which we saw an example of complementarity in action. Exactly 13 years after the events of 28 September 2009 at the national stadium in Conakry, a trial commenced under Guinean law in which 11 accused have been charged for their alleged crimes. The events at Conakry stadium marked a dark moment for Guinea, with the alleged killing or disappearance of between 156 -200 people and the rape or infliction of sexual violence against 109 women.
While victims and survivors have waited too long for this day, their steadfast belief in their right to justice is what has led us to this important moment. At the courthouse I applauded their courage and stamina in pursuit of accountability. It is now for the Guinean authorities and institutions to ensure a fair, credible, independent and impartial process in order that the full truth can emerge in accordance with the law.
My visit to Conakry marked a continuation of extensive engagement of my Office with Guinean authorities, representing our 21st visit to Guinea in the context of the preliminary examination which began in 2009.
Since the commencement of my term my Office has intensified this engagement, with the most recent high level visit conducted by Deputy Prosecutor Mame Mandiaye Niang during which he met with the President of the Transition, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, other senior officials of Guinea, civil society organisations and victims associations, providing advice, encouragement and support in the final stages of preparations for the trial.
I was delighted following my attendance at the opening of the trial to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the President of the Transition, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, furthering the principal of complementarity and strengthening future cooperation in pursuit of justice.
This constitutes a legally binding commitment by the Republic of Guinea, to ensure accountability for crimes committed in the context of the events of 28 September 2009 and deepen the collaboration with my Office.
In particular, pursuant to this agreement, the Republic of Guinea commits to support this trial by: 1) ensuring, in collaboration with its international partners, the training of Judges, prosecutors, registrars, and lawyers; 2) ensuring, in collaboration with its international partners, outreach and communication to objectively inform the public of the developments of the judicial proceedings; 3) preventing any interference with the administration of justice; 4) ensuring the safety and security of judicial and prosecutorial personnel as well as participants appearing before the judges, in particular victims and witnesses; 5) providing, in collaboration with its international partners, support and assistance to victims and witnesses participating in the trial; 6) promoting full cooperation and coordination between the relevant State entities and with international stakeholders, as appropriate, including in the Steering Committee established by Guinea; and 7) allocating the required resources for the implementation of the above mentioned measures.
For our part, my Office commits to continue supporting Guinea’s accountability efforts including by contributing to projects and programmes aimed at the provision of knowledge transfer, exchange of best practices and technical support. Meetings between the parties will be organized regularly to exchange on the progress made in the proceedings.
These common efforts to ensure effective justice for the families of victims through concrete action at the domestic level are in line with my approach to complementarity whereby we jointly create an environment of constructive dialogue and cooperation, enabling national authorities to take on greater responsibility with respect to Rome Statue crimes.
The opening of this trial is thus not only of relevance for Guinea by bringing justice closer to survivors, but for all State Parties to the Rome Statute and the international community as a whole. In this regard, my Office will remain steadfast in its support to the national judicial system.
As I have previously stated, an assessment of complementarity should not, and cannot, be postponed indefinitely pending the completion of all possible domestic proceedings. To the contrary, the Statute and the Court's case law are clear that the admissibility assessment must be carried out on the basis of the facts as they exist.
With the start of this trial and with the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding, the Guinean authorities have demonstrated a genuine will and the ability to take forward meaningful action in relation to the events in Conakry stadium.
Where such genuine action is taken by national authorities it is my responsibility to reflect this progress in my assessment. As I have repeatedly stated, if States step up to fulfil their international obligations, I will step out. I have concluded that the national authorities of Guinea are neither inactive, unwilling nor unable to genuinely investigate and prosecute the alleged crimes committed at Conakry stadium. Accordingly, I have decided to close the Preliminary Examination into the situation in Guinea.
It is however imperative to underline that with the opening of the trial and the closure of the preliminary examination by my Office, the process has not finished. A new stage of collective work has started. My Office will continue closely monitoring the proceedings and engaging with the Guinean authorities to ensure their responsibilities under the Rome Statute are fulfilled.
For those that are uncertain as to the effectiveness of the new process that has started, I wish to emphasize that the MoU I have concluded requires constant engagement and the sharing of information by Guinean authorities with my Office. If we discern any attempt to shield the accused or if we form a view that the process is not consistent with Rome Statute obligations I will not hesitate to inform the Guinean authorities, re-open the Preliminary Examination and move to a full investigation if necessary.
Notwithstanding this, today I congratulate the Republic of Guinea and the relevant national authorities for the courageous and necessary step of commencing the trial in relation to events of 28 September 2009. My Office will play its part moving forward to help ensure this trial meets the legitimate expectations of justice of the victims and survivors.
The Office will issue a report on the Situation in Guinea in due course.