News / Africa

Recording Rights Abuses in Northern Mali

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
The French-led military intervention in northern Mali has enabled a rights group to gather evidence of alleged abuses, killings and disappearances in the region. Human Rights Watch has been interviewing victims and eyewitnesses since the offensive began last month.


Corinne Dufka and her colleagues have talked to many people who gave personal accounts of rights abuses in northern Mali. Dufka is the senior researcher for West Africa for Human Rights Watch.

“The victims and witnesses from abuses by all sides were anxious to talk once we were able to find them – both those who had come to the south as displaced or also those who we interviewed by phone in the various different towns and villages in the north,” she said.

Dufka visited VOA following a recent trip to Mali and described some of the abuses the group has documented.

“First, the Tuareg separatist rebels, who engaged in extensive looting and pillage, as well as some sexual abuse against girls and women after they took over the towns and villages in the north. Then by the Islamist forces who engaged in flogging and beating, as well as amputation of limbs and a few cases killing, as they implemented their particular world view and their version of sharia,” she said.

Dufka alleged the Islamist groups executed 70 Malian soldiers early in the war in the town of Aguelhok. The groups are also blamed for the destruction of Malian cultural icons, especially in Timbuktu. But she said that the abuses do not fall on the Tuaregs and Islamists alone.

“For their part, the Malian army engaged in a number of extrajudicial executions, both of rival soldiers during a counter-coup in April. And then more recently against individuals accused of [collaborating] with or [being] members of the Islamist groups. The most recent mission we conducted we found that Malian soldiers in the aftermath of the Kona attack detained and then executed at least 13 individuals, most of whom were detained at the bus station in Severe and then marched about a hundred meters down the road, executed, and put in one of four wells,” she said.

Human Rights Watch has not been able to determine what happened to six other individuals, who had been detained by Malian troops.

Dufka added that there are “dangerously high ethnic tensions” in the north.

“With the pro-government forces, both the militias, as well as the Malian army, having the worrying human rights record that they do, we are extremely concerned that there will be reprisal killings by them, as well as by the local population as they return home to the northern town and villages. There is a worrying ruler-of law vacuum in the north. The institutions, the police, the gendarmerie, the judiciary, which is supposed to protect and ensure rule-of-law, largely fled. And so people are returning to an area which lacks proper safeguards to protect human rights,” she said.

Human Rights Watch is urging the Malian government, French and ECOWAS troops and the international community to monitor human rights abuses. The group praised the government for immediately bringing back mayors to towns and villages to help restore calm. The government is also using local radio stations to appeal to the population not to seek revenge, but to turn over any suspected Islamists to authorities.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Thabo
February 07, 2013 10:33 AM
What about gathering evidence in Zimbabwe?
Maybe that special report by South African Judges could be released to avoid delays mmmmmm

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs