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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid