Central Mali: Perpetrators of Ogassagou massacre should be arrested and sentenced to stop the spiral of violence

Press release
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AMDH and FIDH strongly condemn the 23 March massacre of at least 160 civilians in Bankass Circle, attributed to Dan Na Ambassagou, a Dozo militia. In an investigative report published last November, our organizations discussed several massacres committed by this militia in the region, particularly in the Koro Circle.(1) The recurrence of attacks against Fulani villages in this area constitute crimes against humanity. We therefore reiterate our requests to open independent investigations and prosecution of the perpetrators of crimes against humanity committed by all parties since 2015 in the center of the country, starting with the arrest and sentencing of those responsible for the Ogossagou massacre.

On the morning of 23 March 2018, armed men identified as Dozo hunters attacked the Fulani village of Ogossagou, 14 km from Bankass. They massacred at least 160 people including women and children, injured around fifty others, set fire to over 450 homes, and slaughtered livestock.

“We condemn this new massacre targeting mainly Fulani civilians, which is the latest in a series of abuses and attacks amounting to crimes against humanity .”

Drissa Traoré, FIDH vice president

Malian authorities announced the opening of an investigation and suspended several military officials, including the Armed Forces Chief of Staff and the Army Chief of Staff. The Council of Ministers convened on 24 April 2018 by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita likewise decided to dissolve the Dogon militia Dan Na Ambassagou.

This dissolution alone is, however, insufficient. It must be accompanied by impartial investigations into the perpetrators of the abuses and the role of militias, followed by the prosecution of all those who orchestrated and those who carried out the Ogossagou massacre. The militias in Central Mali, which were established in reaction to the abuses and killings of jihadist groups, have benefited from leniency which has significantly contributed to a spiral of ethnic violence which has escalated out of control.

“While we welcome the first emergency measures taken by President Keita, we reiterate our request to disarm and dismantle the militias. We also call for independent investigations and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against humanity committed by all parties in the center of the country. In Mali, impunity for those who commit mass crimes as in Ogossagou is one of the reasons for the continuation of and the magnitude of abuses .”

Moctar Mariko, AMDH President

AMDH and FIDH reiterate that it is of utmost importance to immediately disarm and dismantle all armed groups and militias that are operating illegally in central and northern Mali. This dismantling should entail, in particular, the return of the Malian State and its troops to protect and maintain order in these areas scarred by jihadist attacks and ethnic violence.


The conflict in central Mali intensified in 2015 with attacks by the jihadist group Katiba Macina of radical preacher Amadou Koufa. The State’s withdrawal in response to the jihadist group’s attacks has left the field open to the establishment of ethnic militias that have, since 2016, committed attacks against other communities. 2018 saw major exacerbation of conflict in the region, with antiterrorist operations by the Malian armed forces, jihadist attacks and massacres of militias claiming many lives, accompanied by a 40% increase in violence and abuses nationwide. More than 300 victims have already been identified in 2019, with over 1,500 lives lost over the past three years. The investigative report published in November 2018 by the AMDH and FIDH reviews the crimes committed by all parties and the dynamics of the conflict in central Mali.

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