Since the beginning of 2015, more than 200 terrorist and criminal attacks have been recorded in the North and Center of Mali killing more than 200 people, most of them civilians. 140 of these attacks were carried out by terrorist armed groups, 42% of which have targeted United Nation forces. In 2015, attacks by armed groups caused around 150 deaths and injured a further 250 people among which 50% were civilians. Attacks targeting MINUSMA alone led to 29 dead and 80 injured, making Mali the most dangerous country for a UN mission.
« Eight months after the conclusion of the Peace Agreement, terrorist armed groups, mafia and others are responsible for about 30 attacks every month, resulting in persistent insecurity and serious human rights violations against the population and international forces. Progress needs to take place in the implementation of the Peace Agreement and in the fight against impunity in order to lower the level of violence and to protect civilians. » declared our organizations.
Our organisations have noted the persistence of human rights violations by terrorist armed groups, government supporters and former rebels, allegedly responsible for a dozen enforced disappearances and execution of people accused of being informants. The Malian security forces are also responsible for violations, including cases of arbitrary arrest, mistreatment and acts of torture in the context of counter-terrorist operations Séno and Jiguiya launched in late 2015. Approximately 300 persons are believed to be currently in detention in relation to the conflict in the North of the country, and around 55% of them without having been charged.
While judicial proceedings against the former putschist leader of the military junta in power in 2012 have advanced, victims of crimes committed in Northern Mali by rebel armed groups, jihadist and Malian armed forces have not seen any substantial development as far as their cases are concerned. Not only victims are denied their right to truth and justice, Malian authorities are thereby also deprived of an important lever to limit the proliferation of violent actors on the ground. Since 2013, Malian authorities have even released 220 former detainees linked to the conflict in the North, mainly in response to demands from armed groups under the confidence-building measures of the Peace Agreement. According to our organisations, at least 46 among them are allegedly responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes or other serious human rights violations.
To address these challenges, our organisations call upon Malian authorities to make the fight against impunity a reality, in particular through the following measures: (i) establishing a judicial department specialised in the most serious crimes; (ii) guaranteeing that anyone released is not suspected of serious crimes; and (iii) arresting and prosecuting identified suspects, including those mentioned in this paper.
Likewise, efforts to promote national reconciliation must not be undermined by new appointments within the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR) that might threaten the impartiality of its members because of the presence of representatives of armed groups or of alleged perpetrators of crimes. Our organisations believe that the effectiveness of the CVJR’s work to promote reconciliation will depend on the quality of its composition as well as its ability to ensure that each victim is offered a safe access to truth, justice and reparations.