War Crimes in North Mali

FIDH and its member organisation in Mali, AMDH, publish an investigation report on international crimes committed in northern Mali by armed Islamist groups and the MNLA since their first attacks in mid-January 2012. FIDH and AMDH are very concerned about the continued abuses that constitute crimes against humanity in northern Mali and urge the international community to increase its efforts to reinstate the legal institutions in Bamako and accelerate the political transition process, deeming this to be the only way to end international crimes committed against the civilian population in North Mali and that with total impunity.

“This report provides an inquiry and testimony from North Mali on numerous cases of rape, summary executions and systematic plundering that occurred when the large cities in the north were being taken over by the armed groups", said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “The civilian populations of North Mali suffered violence by MNLA and now are subjected to the arbitrary rule and harrassment of armed Islamists who impose the unacceptable and destroy symbols of the history of humanity,” she added.

The report includes evidence and verified information on the rape campaign in Gao and Timbuktu after these cities were captured by members of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). The inquiry led to the identification of about 50 cases of rape and other sexual crimes against women, and even young girls. The Islamist group also target children by recruiting them as child-soldiers. Our organisations documented dozens of cases and are alarmed about the recruitment campaign by Ansar Dine, which is believed to have 12 to 15-year old children in their training camps near Gao. The report also details the summary execution of 153 Malian soldiers who were captured and killed, some by stabbing, of Tuareg and Islamist rebels at Aguelock on 24 January 2012.

“These abuses are serious violations of international humanitarian law that we have assessed as elements of war crimes and, possibly, crimes against humanity, that in any case fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court,” said Patrick Baudouin, Head of FIDH Legal Action Group.

AMDH and FIDH have identified dozens of cases of executions of war prisoners, summary executions and extrajudicial executions, as well as rape and other sexual crimes, recruitment of child soldiers, abductions, arbitrary detentions, pillaging, destruction of property especially cultural goods and places of worship of incalculable value. All these violations occurred during the four months of the conquest of northern Mali by the combined forces of the Tuareg forces, MNLA, AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), Ansar Dine (Defenders of Islam) and MUJAO (Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa) and to a lesser extent self-defence groups and soldiers from the Malian army.

“The Islamists are destroying mausoleums in Timbuktu, and Mali does not have the capacity to end these crimes nor the court system to prosecute and judge the perpetrators” said Moktar Mariko, AMDH President.

At the opening of the summit of Heads of State anf Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, FIDH and AMDH propose a series of recommendations to the transitional Malian Government and to the international community to help them actively support the ECOWAS roadmap for a national unity government and, at the international level, an African-led security force.

“To stop the war crimes in North Mali does not only require a legally established government in Bamako but also support from the rest of the international community to the African states in the region that are trying to solve the Malian problem”, said Sidiki Kaba, FIDH Honorary President. “Without the normalisation of the regime in the South, there cannot be a quick solution in the North. With this in mind, the AU summit and the action of the U.N. Security Council in the next few weeks will be decisive. In the meantime, the civilian populations in the North are dominated by radical and retrograd armed Islamist groups” he added.

Download the report : War Crimes in North Mali

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