Seven years ago, Guinea’s security forces opened fire on peaceful opposition protesters, leaving more than 150 people dead. Many women were brutally raped, abuses that followed in the days after. The Guinean government argued that the perpetrators were soldiers not affiliated with the Presidential Guard. Investigations by Human Rights Watch and other organizations, however, indicated that the abuses were premeditated and organized.

In the months following the 2009 massacre, Human Rights Watch demanded that Guinea investigate, prosecute and punish the security forces involved. Yet even today, on the 7th anniversary of the atrocity, victims are still waiting for justice to be delivered at the national or international level. Several high level officials are being investigated at the national level, including the former leader of the National Council of Democracy and Development and his vice-president. A trial is scheduled to open next year.

The Guinean judicial authorities may attempt to delay the investigation, which would be detrimental to the well-being of the victims. A 2014 reorganization of the justice system, however, has proven to be beneficial to the investigation, making important progress on the road to justice. Successful prosecution would also help to bring recognition and awareness of the massacre and the oppression suffered overall, which often is silenced among the new generation. Failure to acknowledge the past only encourages the cycle of violence that continues to persist. If the barriers can be overcome, this trial represents a potentially positive development in their road to justice.

Mukwege Foundation: reinforce accountability systems

One outcome of the Mukwege Foundation’s theory of change is to have governments allocate resources to reinforce accountability systems, which must happen in Guinea’s case through more efficient investigations and addressing the needs of victims. The upcoming 2017 trial is an opportunity to finally hold the perpetrators accountable.

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