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Guinea president-elect to create truth and reconciliation commission

Guinea's President-elect Alpha Conde announced Saturday that he will create a truth and reconciliation commission to address decades of ethnic and political violence. Conde said on state television that reconciliation was essential to rebuild [Reuters report] the volatile country. The commission will be modeled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission [official website] created by Nelson Mandela after the fall of apartheid. The commission is likely to be well received by human rights groups. Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that, when responding to violence during the elections last month, Guinea used excessive force and lacked political neutrality. HRW urged the new government [press release], headed by Conde to:

  • Bring to justice those responsible for the gross abuses, both in connection with election-related violence, and the killings of more than 150 opposition supporters and rapes of 100 women by security forces in September 2009; ...
  • Establish a truth-telling mechanism to uncover the roots of ethnic violence, investigate the historical persecution of particular ethnic groups, explore the dynamics that gave rise to and sustained cycles of successive authoritarian and abusive regimes, and make recommendations to ensure better governance and prevent a repetition of past violations; ... and
  • Ensure that those responsible for inciting and carrying out violence are investigated and held accountable, including members of both political parties.
Last week, the Guinea Supreme Court [GlobaLex backgrounder] validated [JURIST report] that Conde won the presidency in the first free election since the country's independence from France.

After the first presidential election in June, no candidate received enough votes to claim a majority [JURIST report], and a runoff was held between former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and Conde. The election came at the conclusion of 18 months of governance by a military junta, which took power in a 2008 coup. The coup followed the death of Lansana Conte [BBC profile], who had ruled the West African country since 1984. In May, the International Criminal Court (ICC) sent a delegation from the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) [official websites] to Guinea to further investigate the killing [JURIST report] of more than 150 pro-democracy protesters in Conakry [BBC backgrounder] in September 2009. The protesters had rallied against Guinean military leader Moussa Dadis Camara [BBC profile], who announced in October that he intended to push elections forward three months and stand for election, breaking a promise not to run made shortly after he took power. An assassination attempt on Camara two months later eventually drove him into exile.

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