Human Rights Council Thirty-first session Agenda item 10 Technical assistance and capacity-building
1. This report is submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 28/31, adopted on 27 March 2015, in which the Council renewed the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for one year with a view to assisting the Government of Mali in its efforts to promote and protect human rights and requested him to submit a report to the Council at its thirty-first session.
2. In this report, which covers the period from 1 May to 29 December 2015, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo, gives an account of his fifth visit to Mali, from 10 to 19 October 2015. The report is based on information collected from government authorities, United Nations bodies operating in the country, national and international organizations dealing with humanitarian issues and human rights, as well as on the testimonies of associations and families of victims of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
3. The Independent Expert wishes to thank the Government of Mali for facilitating his stay in the country and granting him access to all the national and local officials that he asked to meet. During his fifth visit, as with the previous visits, the Independent Expert met with high-ranking officials, including the President of the Republic, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Keeper of the Seals, and the Minister of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs.
4. The Independent Expert met the Secretary-General of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission. He visited Bamako Prison.
5. The Independent Expert held talks with representatives of civil society, associations of victims in northern Mali and a youth association, representatives of the Platform and the Coordination of movements of armed groups, the diplomatic corps and United Nations bodies.
6. The Independent Expert wishes to thank Mongi Hamdi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Koen Davidse, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for political affairs, and the staff of the Human Rights Division of MINUSMA. The technical and logistical support from the United Nations system in Mali was essential for facilitating and ensuring the success of the Independent Expert’s fifth visit.
II. General situation in the country
A. The political situation
7. Since the Independent Expert’s fourth visit, in March 2015, key political developments suggest that it is likely that the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali will be effectively implemented and that the human rights situation in the country will improve.
8. On 20 June 2015, the Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA) signed in Bamako the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, which had been approved on 15 May by pro-Government groups and the international mediation. On 5 June in Algiers, CMA had undertaken to ratify the Agreement after signing two documents with the Government: one relating to guarantees for enforcing provisions concerning the inclusion, as a matter of priority, of most of the combatants of political-military movements, notably CMA, within the security forces in the north, and the other concerning security arrangements for the withdrawal of armed groups of the Platform from the town of Ménaka (in the north-east).
9. On 21 September 2015, the Council of Ministers decided to postpone the local elections scheduled for 25 October 2015. Political parties, civil society organizations,
CMA and the Platform had requested that the polls should be delayed until the return of refugees and internally displaced persons so as to guarantee an inclusive electoral process. The Government also highlighted insecurity in the northern regions and the need to review electoral boundaries.
10. On 14 October 2015, the armed groups signed a pact of honour agreeing to a ceasefire and peace. As part of a direct and constructive dialogue between CMA and the Platform, a series of meetings took place in Anéfis from 4 to 14 October 2015. The talks between CMA (ex-Tuareg-led rebellion) and the Platform (a coalition of pro-Government groups) lasted nearly three weeks. This was a key step because, without a credible and lasting ceasefire, the Agreement cannot lead to a durable peace or its effective implementation.
11. On 22 October 2015, at an international conference organized in Paris by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development for the economic recovery and development of Mali, donors reaffirmed their commitments in favour of Mali. The conference brought together the Malian authorities, led by the President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, representatives of the signatories to the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation and 64 countries and international partner organizations. At the conference, the President highlighted the importance of economic recovery and balanced development across all the northern regions and State reform through an enhanced decentralization process.
12. This fresh momentum in the peace process was accompanied by progress in the implementation of the Agreement; in particular, the Monitoring Committee has met on several occasions. In order for the Committee to be able to meet, it was necessary for MINUSMA and members of the international community to engage in mediation with armed groups following ceasefire violations and the withdrawal from Anéfis in September 2015.