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Mali

    November 29, 2016

    The opening of the trial of former Malian junta leader Amadou Haya Sanogo is an important first step to put an end to an agonizing three-year-long wait for justice for those who suffered torture, as well as the murder and enforced disappearances of loved ones, at the hands of his soldiers, Amnesty International said today.

    Sanogo and several soldiers under his command will be tried on 30 November by the Assize Court in Mali’s capital, Bamako, on charges linked to the abduction and murder of soldiers accused of supporting the ousted President, Amadou Toumani Touré. The charges also include the enforced disappearances of 21 soldiers between 30 April and 1 May 2012, whose bodies were later found in a mass grave.

    “Sanogo’s brief rule was characterized by torture, disappearances and extra-judicial executions. For the victims and their families this trial brings a fresh hope of justice,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher.   

    September 27, 2016

    Today’s International Criminal Court (ICC) conviction of Ahmad Al Faqi Al-Mahdi, a senior member of the Ansar Eddine armed group, must be the first step towards broader accountability for all crimes committed during Mali’s 2012 conflict, Amnesty International said. 

    The ICC sentenced Al-Mahdi to 9 years imprisonment for intentionally directing attacks against religious buildings and historical monuments in the northern town of Timbuktu between June and July 2012. Al-Mahdi admitted his guilt to the court.  

    “This verdict is a clear recognition that attacks on religious and historical monuments can destroy the culture and identity of a population and constitute crimes under international law,” said Erica Bussey Amnesty International’s Senior Legal Advisor.

    “This positive development should not let us lose sight of the fact that hundreds of civilians were murdered, tortured and raped during the 2012 conflict in Mali. The ICC should therefore continue to investigate crimes committed by all sides to the conflict.”

    August 22, 2016

    In response to the opening today of the trial of Ahmad Al-Fadi Al-Mahdi, an alleged senior member of the Ansar Eddine armed group, for attacks on mosques and mausoleums in Timbuktu in 2012, Amnesty International’s Africa Senior Legal Advisor Erica Bussey said:

     

    “Attacks against religious and historical monuments violate cultural rights and can cause significant harm to the local and sometimes broader communities. They are war crimes and those suspected of carrying out such attacks should be prosecuted.”

     

    “However, while this case breaks new ground for the ICC, we must not lose sight of the need to ensure accountability for other crimes under international law, including murder, rape and torture of civilians that have been committed in Mali since 2012.”

     

    For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

    Background

    August 20, 2014

    Posted at 0001 BST 21 August 2014

    Children accused of being members of armed groups in the conflict in Mali are languishing in adult jails while human rights abuses continue, said Amnesty International in a short briefing published today.

    Mali: All parties to the conflict must put an end to ongoing human rights violations presents the findings of a research mission to assess the human rights situation in the country.

    “Children have suffered throughout this conflict. A number of them as young as 16 have been recruited as child soldiers and those accused of being members of armed groups are being detained alongside adults without access to family or legal counsel,” said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.  

    December 04, 2013

    Authorities in Mali must urgently identify the 21 bodies found in a mass grave last night, believed to belong to soldiers abducted in May 2012, Amnesty International said.

    “Ever since the soldiers were abducted from the Kati Military Camp, their loved ones have been desperate to know what has happened to them. Authorities in Mali must now do everything in their power to give the families the full truth,” said Gaĕtan Mootoo, Mali researcher at Amnesty International, who met with some of the relatives of the soldiers last week.

    “Unfortunately, the initial reports seem to confirm our fears that the 21 soldiers could have been executed,” added Gaĕtan Mootoo. “Amnesty International extends its deepest sympathies to all the families concerned.”

    The mass grave was discovered following the arrest of General Amadou Haya Sanogo who led a military coup in Mali in March 2012. Several of his soldiers were also detained.

    They were charged with kidnapping, murder and assassination in connection with the disappearance of 21 ‘red beret’ soldiers suspected of supporting a counter-coup against General Sanogo.

    November 30, 2013

    Released 11:00 am GMT 30 November 2013

    The Malian authorities must immediately release five children that have been detained in a military detention centre for over seven months, says Amnesty International today as it releases a Human Rights Agenda for Mali, in the country’s capital.

    An Amnesty International delegation, led by the Secretary General, Salil Shetty, met the five children between the ages of 15 and 17 in the military detention centre (Gendarmerie Camp) in Bamako.

    One of the five children is a child soldier who joined the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO). The other four were arrested because of their suspected links to armed groups. 

    “We were horrified to see these traumatised young boys detained in poor conditions, along with adults,” says Salil Shetty. “This is a clear violation of national and international law and they must be released immediately”.

    “Children should rarely, if ever, be held in detention. In all actions concerning children the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration.”

    October 23, 2013

    Elements of Mali’s military appear to be carrying out a purge and extrajudicial killings of soldiers who took part in a mutiny last month in a barracks outside the capital Bamako, Amnesty International said today based on its research.

    The bodies of four soldiers were discovered earlier this month near the capital and several others, including a Colonel, remain unaccounted for. These apparent extrajudicial executions and disappearances raise fears that soldiers loyal to General Amadou Haya Sanogo, who staged a coup in March 2012, are purging their ranks to quell dissent.

    “This is the latest shocking example of how a small group of soldiers who appear to consider themselves above the law continue to cling onto power in Mali,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International's researcher on West Africa.

    June 14, 2013

    Children in Mali, some as young as 13, who were recruited as child soldiers by armed groups or suspected of links with them, are now being detained by Malian forces alongside adults, where some say they’ve been tortured, Amnesty International revealed after returning from a four-week visit to the country.

    The organization’s delegates spoke to nine children between 13 and 17 years of age who were held with adults at the Maison centrale d’arrêt and at Camp I of the gendarmerie of Mali’s capital, Bamako, on suspicion of association with armed groups.

    One of them, a 15-year-old shepherd, was arrested by Chadian forces in Intouké – in the northern Kidal region – and handed over to French forces. He said they did not ask for his age and did not interview him in his mother tongue, Tamasheq (a Tuareg language) before handing him over to the Malian gendarmerie in Bamako. During the plane transfer, he was blindfolded and had his hands and feet tied.

    Some of the children said they had being victims of torture or other ill-treatment by the Malian forces.

    June 06, 2013

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  7 June 2013  

    Civilians are among dozens of people who have been tortured, killed and disappeared, including while in detention, since the launch of the French army’s intervention in the country five months ago, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today.

    The briefing Mali: Preliminary findings of a four-week mission. Serious human rights abuses, issued in the run-up to the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Mali next month, is the result of a research mission carried out in May and June in the country.

    “The Malian security forces’ human rights record since January is, simply, appalling. They continue to violate human rights with apparently no fear of being held accountable,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International researcher and member of this research mission.

    During the visit, Amnesty International documented dozens of cases of detainees being tortured or ill-treated after being arrested for having alleged links with armed groups. The organization also documented more than 20 cases of extrajudicial-executions or enforced disappearances.

    February 01, 2013

    The Malian army has committed serious human rights breaches plus violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) during the ongoing conflict against armed groups in the country, including extrajudicial executions of civilians, according to evidence gathered by Amnesty International during a 10-day mission to the West African state.

    A new briefing based on the mission also outlines concerns that Islamist armed groups have committed of serious human rights abuses and violations of IHL, including unlawful killings and the recruitment of child soldiers.

    Additionally, there is evidence that at least five civilians, including three children, were killed in an airstrike carried out as part of a joint operation by the French and the Malian armies in order to stop the offensive of the Islamist armed groups.

    “As fighting is continuing in Mali, all parties to the conflict must ensure that they respect international humanitarian law – and in particular to ensure the humane treatment of captives while taking all necessary precautions to minimize harm to civilians,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s Mali Researcher.

    January 16, 2013

    Today’s announcement that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will open an investigation into crimes under international law committed over the past year of conflict in Mali is a crucial step towards justice for the victims, Amnesty International said.

    ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s announcement comes after a request from the Malian government last July to investigate cases of crimes under international law committed since January 2012, including extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, torture, enforced disappearances and the use of child soldiers.

    "This is an important opportunity to ensure justice for victims of crimes under international law committed over the past year in Mali and sends an important message to those planning and committing such crimes that they cannot act with impunity and may be brought to justice," said Paule Rigaud, Deputy Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    January 14, 2013

    All parties to the armed conflict in Mali must ensure civilians are protected, Amnesty International urged today as military attacks by French forces continued.

    With French support, the Malian army launched a counter-offensive against armed Islamist groups on 11 January to prevent the capture of cities in the south of the country.

    “There are real concerns that the fighting might lead to indiscriminate or other unlawful attacks in areas where members of armed Islamist groups and civilians are inter-mingled,” said Paule Rigaud, Amnesty International's Africa deputy director.

    “Forces involved in armed attacks should avoid indiscriminate shelling at all costs, and do their utmost to prevent civilian casualties.”

    Today the town of Diabaly, 400km north of the capital Bamako, was captured from the Malian army by Islamist armed groups.

    In a marked intensification of the intervention, the French army bombed positions in the north, in Gao and Kidal, on 13 January. At least six civilians were reportedly killed during the fighting for control of the town of Konna on 11 and 12 January.

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