Report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo (A/HRC/25/72)
Human Rights Council Twenty-fifth session Agenda item 10 Technical assistance and capacity-building
Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 22/18, the present report gives an account of the independent expert’s first visit to Mali from 20 October to 3 November 2013. Covering the period from 1 July to 30 December 2013, it examines the political and security situation as well as the institutional reforms undertaken by Mali since the end of the severe crisis triggered in January 2012 by the occupation of the north of the country by armed groups and the return to constitutional order.
The independent expert also reports on human rights violations in the country, including summary executions, enforced disappearances, rapes, looting, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment perpetrated by the Malian armed forces and armed groups in the country.
Despite the complex causes of the conflict between the Government and the armed groups of the north and the mistrust arising from a number of historical episodes of the conflict, the protagonists have demonstrated the political will to find lasting solutions to the multidimensional crisis that has shaken Mali. The Malian stakeholders must persevere in seeking negotiated solutions to their internal problems of governance while urging their neighbours in the Sahel and in the Arab Maghreb as well as the international community to take seriously the problems of transnational crime and terrorism that threaten to destabilize both Mali and the States of the region.
The recent crisis has revealed the underlying causes that almost led to the collapse of the State: years of deteriorating public institutions, including those that govern the rule of law, which allowed corruption to become generalized and impunity to take root. In addition to judicial prosecution of the perpetrators of the most serious crimes and abuse committed in the course of the last crisis, consolidation of peace in Mali will require reforms of the justice and security sectors, efforts to combat the endemic corruption of civil servants brought about by international trafficking and the criminalization of the economy of the north, as well as other institutional reforms.
From the point of view of security, the international military campaign and the Malian armed forces have succeeded in dispersing the armed groups and jihadis, but not in eliminating them entirely. The latter have reorganized and, scarcely one month after the presidential elections, they have launched attacks against military and civilian targets in the north. Tensions between the Malian armed forces and the armed groups in the north, although signatories of a preliminary peace agreement with the Government, have also given rise to deadly clashes. The independent expert notes the destabilizing impact of terrorist attacks and the resumption of military operations on the situation of human rights and the restoration of State authority in the north. He calls on Mali to speed up the negotiation of an equitable, credible programme for the reform of the security sector, disarmament and the social reintegration of former combatants.
Malian justice took an important step towards the restoration of the rule of law and recognition of the rights of victims and their families by opening independent investigations and legal proceedings in the cases of enforced disappearances and other serious human rights violations that took place at the Kati military barracks in April–May 2012 and September–October 2013. The independent expert calls on Mali to protect the independence of its judiciary and to provide it with the material, technical and logistic means — which are seriously lacking — to conduct thorough investigations into the crimes committed by armed groups and Malian armed forces during the crisis in the north. The Government of Mali should mobilize the resources needed to ensure tight security for members of the criminal justice system responsible for trying sensitive cases concerning international crimes, impunity or corruption of high civil or military officials and international terrorism.
The independent expert notes the decision of the Government of Mali to restructure the Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission so as to enlarge its mandate and incorporate the components of truth and justice. All these principles are necessary to enable the Malians to confront a past marked by the socioeconomic and cultural marginalization of certain regions and communities in the country, which is one of the world’s poorest.
The historical grievances of certain population groups in the north having led to repeated armed rebellions followed by at times collective reprisals, the mechanisms of transitional justice are best able — if the new Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission fulfils its mandate — to help the Malians address past injustices and to recognize the rights of the victims to justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.