Mali: Justice in process

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FIDH and AMDH have just published a joint report on Malian justice entitled “Mali: justice in process” (available in French: Mali : la justice en marche. This report analyses the progress made in the initiation of judicial proceedings against those alleged to be responsible for crimes committed during Mali’s 2012-2013 crisis.

FIDH and AMDH welcome the fact that one of the major recommendations of the report regarding the 30 September mutiny case has recently been adopted with the launch of an investigation on 14 March 2014, after our organisations filed a complaint. Furthermore, 28 soldiers including four generals have now also been charged in the “Missing Red Berets” case, constituting another important step in the fight against impunity in Mali. However, much remains to be done, especially regarding crimes committed in northern Mali, a file regrouping dozens distinct proceedings. Our organisations call for a strengthening of investigations in the field and the further promotion of victims’ participation. So far, only a dozen victims have filed civil actions with FIDH and AMDH by their side.

The determination to make progress in ensuring the judgement of those responsible for crimes committed during the Malian crisis is obvious. However, these efforts must more include northern victims whom were the first to witness these crimes, said Moctar Mariko, AMDH President and lawyer for the victims.

One year after the start of investigations, this report provides an opportunity to review progress in the fight against impunity – as conducted by the Malian authorities and the International Criminal Court – for crimes committed by armed groups in the North, some elements of the Malian armed forces and former junta leader Haya Sanogo’s men during Mali’s 2012-2013 crisis.

Read the report in French:

Our organisations welcome the 14 March 2014 opening of a judicial investigation in respect of the mutiny of 30 September 2013 case and addressing allegations of murder, kidnapping, confinement and torture against individuals close to General Haya Sanogo. This investigation comes after a complaint was lodged by FIDH and AMDH on behalf of the 8 victims’ families in the case. The initiation of such proceedings was a major recommendation of this report, and FIDH and AMDH repeated demand, following the discovery of six bodies in three mass graves near Kati in February and March 2014. These bodies may be those of soldiers executed by persons close to General Haya Sanogo during the 30 September 2013 mutiny.

FIDH and AMDH also welcome the charges raised against 28 persons, including four generals, for "murder, complicity to murder" in respect of the “Missing Red Berets” case. Six of the accused have been placed under judicial supervision, including General Dahirou Dembélé, former Chief of Staff, who was heard and charged on 14 March 2014. FIDH and AMDH, who are currently providing assistance to the 23 victims’ families in the case, have joined the proceedings as civil parties.

Over the last six months, Malian justice officials have taken positive and highly symbolic steps that demonstrate the system’s strong political will not to let perpetrators of these crimes go unpunished, said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

Regarding crimes committed in northern Mali, at least 201 people have been charged. The recent arrests of northern Islamist rebels shows the importance and relevance of these cases. However, Malian justice efforts have seen a large number of separate proceedings initiated and low victims’ participation in the legal process, with the exception of a dozen victims who are civil parties represented by the lawyers’ group of FIDH and AMDH Legal Action Group since November 2013. Some of the proceedings raised have already been closed. Considering the number of judicial investigations opened into these events, FIDH and AMDH recommend that the Malian justice system strengthen investigations in the field and improve communication on these cases. This would promote both awareness of Malian judicial action and further victims’ participation. Finally, our organisations deplore that no proceedings against perpetrators of abuses allegedly committed by Malian armed forces (FAMA) seem to have been properly conducted thus far. This is despite the announcement of sanctions, investigations and the initiation of proceedings in 2013.

The commitment to fight impunity must guide the Malian authorities to make progress in cases related to crimes committed in northern Mali, especially by creating conditions for victims’ participation in proceedings and by initiating proceedings against soldiers allegedly responsible for abuses during the conflict. All these steps are crucial to achieving a real process of national reconciliation based on impartial justice, said Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President, Head of its Legal Action Group and lawyer for the victims.

Our organisations call the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC to strengthen its cooperation with Malian authorities and to initiate proceedings against the highest-ranking individuals responsible for the most serious crimes, who will not be promptly prosecuted at the national level.

Download the report (in French) Mali: la justice en marche

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