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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid