News / Africa

Abuses Reported in Northern Mali

Map of Mali
Map of Mali

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Amnesty International says Islamist militias have committed many abuses against civilians in northern Mali, including the use of child soldiers, amputations and stonings. It’s calling on the international community to help deploy human rights monitors.


Amnesty’s Salvatore Sagues says child soldiers – forced into service by anti-government forces – have seen combat in northern Mali.

“We have already learned that some child soldiers were sent to the front line. Some of them have been wounded and killed,” he said.

He said that even government-backed militias in the south are reported to be recruiting children.

“It is forbidden under international law if child soldiers are under 15 it is a war crime. And as you know, the International Criminal Court has opened [an] inquiry into Mali. So people who are using children below the age of 15 will have to account to the International Criminal Court,” he said.

Amnesty is also warning of civilian causalities as French forces pound Islamist militia positions.

“The main problem is that Islamic armed groups are intermingled with civilians in the north. And when the French are bombing towns in the north they may unwittingly wound and even kill civilians. So we are reminding the French and the Malian army to take all the measures necessary to avoid targeting civilians,” he said.

Sagues said there’s also the issue of possible reprisals against those suspected of collaborating with the militias or the Tuareg rebels.

“So we are calling [on] the Malian authorities also to ensure that the armed forces are abiding by humanitarian and human rights law,” he said.

Amnesty is receiving reports of atrocities from human rights defenders and others in the north, who, it said, are risking their lives to get the information out. Sagues gave some examples.

“They imposed their own interpretation if Islam. Flogging couples, for example, who had sexual relationships without being married. They stoned to death a couple, unmarried, who had a child. They amputated several people accused of theft without any trial. They destroyed cultural buildings,” he said

He said before the rise of the militias in the north, Mali had been a very tolerant Muslim country. What’s more, he said, the militias are holding hostages.

“Currently to our knowledge, 13 people are being held in Mali, among whom six are French and four are Algerian nationals. And of course we are very much concerned that these hostages might pay the price of retaliation or reprisal as a consequence of this intervention,” he said.

Amnesty International said that the international community has a responsibility to prevent a fresh surge in abuses.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid