News / Africa

Child Soldiers Detained Mali

Map of Mali, Africa
Map of Mali, Africa

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A human rights group says children recruited as soldiers – and those believed to have ties with armed groups – are being illegally detained in Mali. Amnesty International says they are being held alongside adults, and some claim they’ve been tortured by Malian forces.


Since early last year, human rights organizations have warned that armed groups and government-back self-defense militias were recruiting child soldiers. A year later, there’s growing concern about their safety.

Gaetan Mootoo -- an Amnesty researcher on Africa – said some are being detained at a gendarmerie camp in the capital, Bamako.

“We came across children, who were held in detention with adults, which is kind of contrary to all international instruments and also to the Malian law. And what we noticed is that some of the kids who were in detention …went of their [own] free will to the gendarmerie.  They were arrested because there was an announcement calling for people who had collaborated with the armed groups to surrender.”

He said they received harsh treatment even though they had turned themselves in voluntarily.

“Afterwards, when they went to the police station, they were arrested, interrogated by a judge. They signed a paper, but the judge didn’t read the testimony, which he had recorded. And so these people are held in detention with adults,” he said.

Amnesty spoke to nine of the detained children, who ranged in age from 13 to 17. Mootoo says some of them were arrested in northern Mali towns by joint Mali and French forces.

Mootoo said, “These kids should have been handed over to special centers and also to organizations dealing with children, and this was not the case.”

Some said they were tortured.

“One of the kids told me that he was threatened. Another told me that he was strangled. And another told me that he was suspended to the ceiling, and they threatened him with electric shocks. And also they threatened him with death,” he said.

The children told Amnesty researchers that they joined the armed groups because they were poor and expected to be paid by the MUJAO – the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa. Many left when they were not paid. Others followed in the footsteps of friends who had joined.
 
Amnesty says there are still child soldiers in the field, but their whereabouts and condition are unknown. Amnesty International and other groups are calling on the U.N. mission in Mali, MINUSMA, to develop programs to reintegrate them into society.

The United Nations has released a new report that says thousands of children have been recruited, injured and killed while with armed groups over the past year. It says the situation is getting worse in Mali, Syria and Central African Republic.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More