News / Africa

HRW Accuses Malian Soldiers of Targeting Civilian Ethnic Groups

A young girl's face is engulfed in smoke as Malian soldiers patrolling with Tuareg Malian soldiers under the command of Colonel El-Hadj Ag Gamou stop for a cigarette break in the streets of Gao, northern Mali, Feb. 16, 2013.
A young girl's face is engulfed in smoke as Malian soldiers patrolling with Tuareg Malian soldiers under the command of Colonel El-Hadj Ag Gamou stop for a cigarette break in the streets of Gao, northern Mali, Feb. 16, 2013.
Jennifer Lazuta
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on Mali's government to put a stop to alleged torture, execution and the disappearance of suspected Islamist rebels by the country’s armed forces.  In a statement Thursday, HRW said there is evidence Malian soldiers have been acting outside the law and that they appear to be targeting members of specific ethnic groups.  Mali's Defense Ministry denies the accusations.

As the hunt for Islamist militants in northern Mali continues, an investigation by Human Rights Watch has found that Malian soldiers are executing, torturing and facilitating the forced disappearances of suspected rebels based on ethnicity.

“There have been a number of abuses, and many of them seem to have been committed by soldiers who appear to be responding to the fall of Konna [a key city in Mali] and the concern that Sévaré and several other towns were being infiltrated.  So they went out and detained people on what appears to be very flimsy evidence, based on their ethnic group or how they were dressed and so on,” said Corinne Dufka, a senior West Africa researcher at HRW.

She said it appears that soldiers have specifically been detaining members of the Peuhl, Tuareg and Arab communities in the north and accusing them of fighting with or supporting the Islamist rebel groups that once occupied the area.

In response to the allegations, Mali’s Defense Ministry spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Diarran Kone, said his soldiers do not target specific ethnic groups.

Kone says it’s not about Tuareg or Arab.  He says he is not racist or focused on any ethnic group.  It's about fighting terrorism, he says.  He says he is fighting terrorists and criminals.

However, in January, HRW documented the cases of at least 13 men who were executed without trial and another five cases of suspected rebels who disappeared after being detained by soldiers.

HRW says witnesses have also recounted an additional two cases of Malian soldiers torturing suspected Islamists, six cases of forced disappearances and two executions without trial. 

Most recently, HRW reported that two Peuhl men went missing after being detained by Malian soldiers in the Boni area on February 9.  They say that four Arab men and a Songhai man also disappeared after soldiers detained them in Timbuktu on February 14.

Dufka said that while the Malian government is currently facing a very serious security threat and that while they do have a right to detain people they suspect of being a threat, there is a proper judicial process to follow.

“The procedure is that those individuals who are suspected, they should be handed over to the gendarme [police], who are legally mandated to question those individuals.  And that appears not to be happening in several different places,” she said.

HRW says it is believed that such reports have led to an exodus of more than 22,000 ethnic Tuareg and Arab civilians, who have fled their homes out of fear of being targeted by soldiers.

Dufka says there is now an urgent need for the Malian government to investigate and prosecute the soldiers responsible for such abuses.

She says that Malian authorities have been made aware of the abuses and that they have agreed to take action.  No soldiers have been punished.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid