UN member States should urge Mali to choose justice in the face of crisis

Press release
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(Bamako, Geneva) Countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council should press the government of Mali to put justice and the fight against impunity at the centre of its actions to combat terrorism and insecurity during the country’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which begins January 16, 2018, our organisations said today.

Under the UPR, each UN member state provides updates on its human rights situation, and other countries are given a chance to express their concerns and make recommendations for improvement.

Since the last review in 2013, the Malian government has taken several positive steps such as the holding of free elections in 2013, the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2015, the creation of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, the alignment of the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) in accordance with the Paris Principles, and the trial against Aliou Mahamane Touré concerning crimes committed in Gao.

Other cases, however, remain in suspense, obstructed by a fragile security situation or a lack of resources, or because they are politically sensitive. In order to effectively combat terrorism and insecurity, our organisations call on the Malian authorities and the international community to put justice, dialogue and respect for human rights at the centre of their priorities.

« Peace will be won both by re-establishing security and by meeting the needs of truth, justice and reconciliation. »

Maître Moctar Mariko, President of AMDH

Since 2012, Northern and Central Mali have been troubled by a conflict that has created thousands of victims. The conflict has pitted the Malian State against armed terrorist groups and degenerated into inter-communal clashes.

The extent and gravity of the crimes under investigation and at trial are unprecedented in the recent history of Mali. A number of cases, however, still have not gone to trial, and other proceedings await resumption. While arrest warrants were filed against individuals allegedly responsible for crimes perpetrated systematically in Norther Mali, the investigations have stalled, although these crimes constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The escalation of violence and attacks in the past two years are preventing the return of a functioning judicial system in Northern and Central Mali, and pushing the State to concentrate its resources on security and military responses. In the meantime, and in spite of the June 2015 Peace Agreement provision of “no amnesty” for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, agreements that have been reached for political resolution of the conflict – or for the release of hostages – have led to the release of or de facto dismissal of charges against individuals suspected of serious crimes.

Our organisations are also concerned by the announcement on December 31st of the adoption of a legislation intended to provide amnesty to some actors of the conflict. We fear that several alleged perpetrators of international crimes, including sexual and gender-based crimes, will be exempt from prosecution.

During the review, governments should therefore encourage the Malian authorities to adopt all necessary measures to fight against impunity for the perpetrators of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and to guarantee victims’ access to truth, justice and reparations.

« There can be no peace without a modicum of justice. Malians expect their courts to settle disputes and protect them from the arbitrary actions of armed men, and thereby to help their country emerge from the crisis that it has suffered since 2012. »

Maître Drissa Traoré, FIDH Vice-President
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