News / Africa

Reports: Malian Army, Rebels Guilty of Recent Abuses

Kidal, Mali, Africa
Kidal, Mali, Africa
Anne Look
As the Malian army prepares to advance on the northern rebel-held town of Kidal, reports by two international human rights groups are condemning what they say are serious and recent abuses by both the Malian army and Tuareg separatist group, the MNLA.  Human Rights Watch (HRW) warns that violations could intensify if fresh fighting breaks out for Kidal.  Regionally mediated negotiations between Mali's government and the MNLA are scheduled to begin Friday to try to find a peaceful solution to the crisis ahead of nationwide elections set for July 28.   
 
The Malian army seized the northern town of Anefis from the MNLA on June 5th and says it is preparing to march on Kidal, the last northern town not to return to government control since the start of the French-led military intervention in January.

Anefis marked the first fighting between the army and the MNLA in more than a year.

A catalyst for the army's push north was the reported detention in Kidal of more than 100 men from darker-skinned ethnic groups on June 1st and 2nd.

Human Rights Watch Senior West Africa researcher Corinne Dufka says HRW spoke to seven of those detainees.

"All of them describe being beat up, robbed," Dufka said. "And then several of them had been detained in what they described as a government building.  It wasn't really a formal detention center.  Several of them described racial slurs against their ethnicity."

The MNLA said it was looking for spies working for the Malian army and only wound up holding 20 men and expelling others from Kidal.

HRW's Dufka said "ethnic tensions remain high" and could intensify if the army advances on Kidal and as refugees continue to return home to the north.

Human Rights Watch says it also has documented a wave of abuses by Malian soldiers against at least 24 people since early May, primarily in the Mopti region.  Dufka said most of the victims were from the Tuareg and Bella ethnic groups and had been sought for questioning on suspicion of rebel involvement.

"They brutally beat them at the time of detention and in the course of transferring them from their villages, and towns and nomadic camps north of Mopti down to the gendarmerie in Segou and Niono. … They were beaten and choked to the point of several of them having lost consciousness. Others were tied to trees and then beaten whilst in that position," Dufka said. "One of them described his back being torn.  Once they were in the custody of the gendarmerie, they reported having been treated very well.  They received some medical attention and some food."

Dufka said the abuses are "not systematic" and appear to be the work of undisciplined soldiers. She said HRW documented some cases of Malian officers trying to stop abuse in progress.

Mali's army spokesman has denied accusations of wrongdoing by soldiers.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International says it has documented torture and more than 20 forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings by Malian security forces of primarily Arab and Tuareg civilians since the start of the French-led military intervention in January.

In the report of its preliminary findings on abuses over the past five months, Amnesty says that Malian authorities have opened investigations into some alleged abuses.

Amnesty says it is particularly concerned over the conditions and treatment of detainees being held in connection with the conflict.

Amnesty says detainees at Bamako's Central Prison reported being tortured and denied medical treatment.  Amnesty says at least five detainees died at that prison in April.

Local media reported in April that Mali's military spokesman said three Tuareg detainees had died at that prison.

Both HRW and Amnesty International are calling on all sides to respect the laws of war, protect civilians and ensure proper treatment of detainees.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid