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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid