For more on the upcoming trial, host of VOA’s Daybreak Africa, James Butty spoke with Elise Keppler, the Associate Director of the International Justice Program at the Human Rights Watch.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: Tell us more about the upcoming trial?
Keppler: The opening of this trial is really an extra-ordinary moment.
Victims have been seeking and campaigning for justice for more than a dozen years, and it is a huge step forward for judicial proceedings to open.
The 11 accused are expected to be there, including former President Moussa Dadis Camara who came in from Burkina Faso.
This is such an important step for justice in Guinea and for the victims who have been waiting to see perpetrators held to account.
VOA: What are your thoughts on the current military leader Mamady Doumbouya, as this trial is commencing while the nation is under his leadership?
Keppler: It is the case that he has indicated that this was a priority he was committed to.
It is also the situation that human rights abuses have escalated under his leadership. There has been a ban on public protests and a ban on the opposition.
These are serious concerns, and our hope is that this trial will be accompanied not only by the opening but credible, genuine proceedings and rights reforms to ensure that rights are respected in the country.
VOA: What does justice look like for the victims?
Keppler: I think it starts from the perspective of serious investigations, and there was a multi-year- judicial investigation done and now a credible trial, which will see evidence presented to determine the guilt or innocence of the 11 accused.
Not only is Moussa Dadis Camara among the accused but there are other former high ranking government officials.
I think there is a strong desire to see those accused in the court room because I think that was in question, but there are increasing hopes that it will be the case, especially with Dadis’s return.
Victims are also seeking reparations as part of their participation in this which can come in different forms, be it financial, medical assistance or other means.
I think it is very important to recall that this is the first time in Guinea that there will be a trial involving human rights abuses of this magnitude.