Editing office - Geneva
French GENEVA (13 February 2019) – The human rights situation in Mali is a cause of grave concern as security and humanitarian conditions in central and northern areas continue to worsen, says UN Independent Expert Alioune Tine.
“The combination of violence across communal lines, coupled with the violence of armed extremist group operations, the anti-terrorist operations of the Malian and international defence and security forces, and organized crime create a deep sense of fear and insecurity,” said Mr. Tine presenting a statement at the end of a fact-finding visit.
“In the Mopti region, many villages are under embargo by jihadists, preventing local people from going about their usual daily activities of commerce or agriculture leading in turn to food insecurity and hunger,” said Mr. Tine. “Every effort must be made to put an immediate end to this unacceptable situation, and Government initiatives to address it must be strengthened in order to find the right answers to the scale and complexity of the situation. "Serious and recurrent violations and abuses of human rights, including allegations of extrajudicial executions, abductions, torture, ill-treatment and illegal detention, are committed with impunity. Areas which were not affected a few months ago are now touched by this violence,” said the Expert. "There is an urgent need for an effective military response, with well-equipped and well-trained men, acting in full compliance with human rights standards, to stop the violence as soon as possible and protect the civilian population,” he stressed. The Independent Expert noted the start of investigations into the alleged involvement of Malian soldiers in reports of human rights violations and abuses. “We must go further to ensure that the responsibility of all those involved in serious human rights violations is established in court following fair trials. The only way for the Malian State to eradicate the cancer of impunity is to take the bull by the horns,” he said. Mr. Tine also welcomed the efforts made by the Government which deployed defence and security forces after the recent deadly attacks on the village of Koulogon Peul, and he welcomed the presence of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister who travelled to the area to express their solidarity with the people. “We must find a comprehensive and coordinated strategy combining all initiatives to prevent violence and human rights abuses including the various armed forces involved," said Mr. Tine. “It is also necessary to take note of the limits of the military response to the Malian crisis. In the absence of an urgent solution to the serious political crisis and in the absence of concrete solutions to the rampant poverty in the northern and central regions, and with a relentless fight against corruption, it will be difficult to eradicate violence in Mali. Respect for good governance and concrete development initiatives in the regions, are needed to recreate the conditions necessary for human security," the expert stressed. Mr. Tine said he was encouraged by the efforts of the Reconciliation Commission, which works with communities as part of its mandate to help create the necessary conditions for inter-community reconciliation. “The support of the international community is needed to help the Malian authorities tackle the problems facing the country. The main concerns raised by those I have spoken to include the insecurity generated by intercommunal violence, armed groups and organized crime. A lack of participation by women and young people in the peace process, the continuing closure of schools in northern and central areas along with chronic youth unemployment, are also serious causes for concern,” the expert added. Mr. Tine condemned the threats and attacks by violent extremist groups against schools and school staff that continue in several central and northern regions. The figures for December 2018 show that 807 schools remain closed across the country because of the insecurity. “According to various sources, members of the militant group Jama’at nustrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) have repeatedly threatened populations in several villages in the region over the opening of secular state run schools. The Malian government should take all necessary measures to guarantee the right to education for the children in the regions concerned," said Mr. Tine. “The lack of an effective state presence in the centre and the north is one of the aggravating causes of the current security situation with a totally negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights and on the right to development.” The Independent Expert also welcomed the decision by the Government to submit the draft law on National Understanding to broader consultation, before it goes before the country’s National Assembly for consideration, in light of the serious concerns expressed by human rights groups. During his mission, Mr. Tine visited the regions of Bamako and Mopti and met the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, members of the Malian government, staff of UN agencies, members of the political opposition, the international community, and defence and security forces. He also had talks with representatives of several armed groups including the Plateforme, la Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad and the Mouvement pour le Salut de l’Azawad (MSA), as well as representatives of civil society, religious and traditional leaders, and the national commission for human rights. The Independent Expert will present his report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2019.