Mali : the first victims heard by Courts of Justice against the backdrop of political negotiations : the fight against impunity must not be sacrificed

Press release
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Bamako, Paris, Nairobi, 23 July 2014 – Victims of grave human rights violations during the conflict in the North of Mali in 2012 who were civil parties and accompagnied by FIDH and AMDH testified, for the first time, before Malian courts. Though these auditions constitute a first step to give a voice to the victims, our organisations fear that the fight against impunity of perpetrators of the most serious crimes will be called into question by the ongoing political negotiations and the exchange of alleged authors of human rights violations against war prisonners. Our organisations reaffirm the importance of political negotiations leading to a final and inclusive peace agreement, but reject all impunity for authors of the most serious crimes, impunity being one of the current conflict’s root causes.

Several grave human rights violations victims have been heard by Malian investigating judges the last few days. These auditions are the first victims who were civil parties in the judicial proceedings opened by national courts on the crimes perpetrated in the North of Mali under the control of armed groups.

« That Malian investigating judges can hear for the first time victims of grave human rights violations perpetrated in the North of Mali is a first victory for all the victims who want their story to be heard, the truth to be revealed, and their persecutors to be judged » declared Maître Patrick Baudouin, head of the Legal Action Group and Honorary President of FIDH.

On 24 June 2014, AMDH and FIDH met the President who had reaffirmed to the delegation his attachment to a peaceful and negotiated solution, while at the same time allowing no impunity for authors of human rights violations.

« Political negotiations are an imperative in order to reach a final and inclusive peace agreement respecting national unity but would be a failure if the victims’ rights to justice, truth and reparation were not guaranteed » declared Maître Moctar Mariko, President of AMDH.

On 15 July 2014, the Malian government proceeded to release and exchange 42 armed groupes elements, presumed perpetrators of grave human rights violations and charged by Malian courts, against 45 armed and security forces elements captured by armed groups during the 17 May 2014 fights in Kidal. This prisoners exchange occured on the eve of the opening of the political negotiations, on 16 July 2014 in Alger.

«Though we understand the humanitarian reasons of this exchange, such political liberations can be detrimental to the legitimate rights of the victims to see their judicial proceedings for the crimes committed in the North, move forward, in particular guarantee that the perpetrators are held accountable during a just and fair trial » declared M. Karim Lahidji, President of FIDH.

These events occur against the backdrop of increased fighting and armed confrontation between the warring factions with the aim of being in a position of strength during the political negotiations that started in Alger on 16 July 2014.

Thus, 10 July 2014 in Tabankort’s surroundings (near Anéfis), the armed elements of the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA), of the High Council for Unicity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Azawad Arab Movement (MAA) violently clashed with men from the tripartite coalition. This coalition, close to Bamako’s authorities, is formed of a part of the Azawad Arab Movement led by Ahmed Sidi Ould Mohamed (a MAA loyalist), by members of the Imghads Tuareg tribe and by the Coordination of patriotic movements and resistance forces (CM-FPR).

On 15 July 2014, a suicide attack claimed later by Mocktar Belmoktar’s jihadist group Al-Mourabitoune, a former AQMI leader, targeted French forces in Al Moustarat surroundings, 100 kilometres from Gao. 7 French soldiers were wounded by the explosion. One of the three severely injured soldiers, the legionnaire Dejvid Nikolic, died during the evening according to French authorities. It is the ninth soldier to be killed in Mali since the launching of the Serval operation in January 2013 and the first one to die as a result of a suicide attack, although such operations already took place in the North of the country against barracks where french and african soldiers were stationed.

Since 20 July 2014, violent clashes between armed groups claiming to belong to the Azawad Arab Movement (MAA) on one side and to the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad on the other took place in Tarkint in the Bourem circle.

Background :

On 18 June 2013, the Malian government and the coordination of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the High Council for unicity of Azawad (HCUA) reached a « preliminary agreement to the presidential election and inclusive talks for peace in Mali » in Ouagadougou, which made the presidential elections possible, in July and August 2013. This agreement provided for the reaching of a final agreement 60 days after the presidential election, the cantonment of armed groups, the establishment of an international investigating Commission on the crimes perpetrated in the North, and for « confidence-building measures » to be taken. Despite these engagements, the international investigating Commission has still not been established.

In October 2013, the Malian government has lifted 6 arrest warrants and has freed 23 MNLA and HCUA elements.

On 17 May 2014, during the Prime Minister Moussa Mara’s visit to Kidal, eight Malian officials were killed in the governorate and 32 others were arrested during heavy fighting between the Malian security forces and the armed groups before they were released on 19 May 2014.

On 21 May 2014, the Malian armed forces launched a sustained attack against the armed groups in Kidal which resulted in about 60 deaths and several dozens of FAMA prisonners and dozens of deaths within the armed groups, in particular the MNLA and HCUA.

In view of this escalation of violence and ceasefire violations, our organisations had exhorted the parties to come to the negotiating table.

The political negotiations which opened in Alger on 16 July 2014, involve on one side the Malian government and the Coordination of resistance movements and patriotic forces (CMF-PR), and on the other side the armed groups of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the High Council for Unicity of Azawad (HCUA), and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA). The coordination of resistance movements and patriotic forces (CMF-PR) involve the elements of Ganda-Koy’s pro-governmental armed militias, of the Liberation Front of Northern regions of Mali (FLN), of Ganda-Izo, of the Alliance of Tombouctou region communities (ACRT), of the Armed Force against occupation (FACO), and the learning and Action Cercle (CRA).

Under the auspices of the United Nations, of the CEDEAO and of 5 countries of the region including Algeria, the political negotiations must enable the reaching of a peace agreement in line with Mali’s territorial integrity according to the terms negotiated during long months in view of these negotiations.

Press contacts :

Audrey Couprie (French, English, Spanish) - Tel : +33 6 48 05 91 57 (in Paris) – Email :

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