“Entire sub-region risks destabilization,”if Mali crisis not solved
--Amnesty Intl warns
Amnesty International has outlined a string of human rights violations allegedly committed Mali, mainly in the rebel-controlled north, including extra-judicial killings, rape of women and girls by armed men and arbitrary detentions.
In a report just released, Amnesty has called for coordinated action to protect human rights and international humanitarian law.
Risk of destabilization
“Without coordinated action to protect human rights, uphold international humanitarian law and the assistance of displaced and refugee populations, the entire sub-region risks destabilisation through the effects of political instability, armed conflict in the north and the food crisis which affects the whole of the Sahel,” said Amnesty’s West Africa researcher, Gaëtan Mootoo.
According to the London-based rights group, its research mission in Mali visited the capital, Bamako and four refugee sites in Niger, about 200 kilometres north of the capital Niamey.
“The entire north of the country has been taken over by armed groups who are running riot. Ten of thousands of people have fled the region, creating a humanitarian crisis in Mali and in neighbouring countries,” the Amnesty report said.
The Islamists rebels’ capture of northern Mali came after last March military coup in Bamako, amid severe food crisis that has hit Mali and the Sahel region in the past months.
In a statement, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher, Gaetan Mootoo, who has just returned from the area, said after two decades of relative stability and peace, Mali is now facing its worst crisis since independence in 1960.
The report features gruesome testimonies by some of the victims such as a 19 year old female student, who had fled to Bamako:
“I was on the way to a friend’s house around 8pm with one of my classmates. On the way, a motorcycle carrying two Tamasheq [Tuareg] and a car full of armed men and captured women, stopped beside us. One of the two Tamasheqs on the motorbike was wearing a military uniform. They began to tell us that we should go with them to the camp because they needed women. We refused. My friend lied and said she was pregnant. One of the Tamasheks then made me go into an empty house. I told him I was menstruating. He ordered me to show him. I showed him the blood. He said ‘What’s that?‘ and raped me.”
The rights group said it has also found evidence of Malian government soldiers’ involvement in human rights abuses.
“Malian soldiers beat and then extra-judicially executed three unarmed people accused of spying for the MNLA in Sevare (630 kilometres north of Bamako) on 18 April 2012. Other suspects are being held in locations not registered as places of detention such as the General Directorate of Public Security (Direction générale de la sécurité d’État or DGSE),” the report noted.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International is calling all parties to the Malian conflict “to respect international humanitarian law and to take the necessary measures to protect civilians and combatants captured during the conflict.”
It is also calling on “Malian authorities to put an end to the harassment of those who campaign peacefully for the return of the rule of law.”Tweet