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 Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

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