Annual Report: Mali 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Mali 2013

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Interim head of state Diouncounda Traoré (replaced Amadou Toumani Touré)

Interim head of government Django Cissoko (replaced Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé)

The armed conflict in the north of the country and the military coup that ensued led to very serious human rights violations committed by the security forces, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture. Armed groups in the north committed abuses including sexual violence, deliberate and arbitrary killings and corporal punishments. Both sides recruited child soldiers.


In January, Tuareg and Islamist armed groups launched an uprising which triggered in March a military coup in the capital, Bamako, which overthrew the democratically elected President, Amadou Toumani Touré. This resulted in the de facto partition of the country in April. Despite the appointment in April of an interim Head of State and Prime Minister, the military coup leaders, under Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, remained politically influential.

The conflict in the north resulted in military and civilian casualties and led to the mass displacement of more than 400,000 people, who found refuge in the south of Mali, or in neighbouring Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.

From April, the north was under total control of several armed groups including the Tuareg's Azawad National Liberation Movement (Mouvement national de liberation de l'Azawad, MNLA) and three Islamist groups: Ansar Eddin, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

In July, the government referred the crisis situation in the country to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the basis that national authorities were unable to investigate and prosecute these crimes. In July and August, the ICC sent a preliminary investigation to determine whether an investigation should be opened. The results were not known by the end of the year.

In October, African leaders from ECOWAS decided to draw up a plan for military intervention to retake control of the north with the endorsement of the UN and several other governments, including France and the USA.

In December, the UN Security Council authorized an African-led force to use “all necessary measures” to take back northern Mali from armed groups.

Violations by government forces

In its fight against the MNLA, the army launched several indiscriminate attacks against civilian targets in the Kidal region.

  • In February, an army helicopter targeted the Kel Essouck camp near Kidal, injuring at least 12 people and killing a four-year-old girl, Fata Walette Ahmedou, who was fatally hit by a shell.

Torture and other ill-treatment, and extrajudicial executions

People suspected of being supporters of armed groups or targeted because they were Tuareg, were victims of torture and other ill-treatment or extrajudicial executions by security forces.

  • In January, soldiers arrested two Tuaregs accused of providing petrol to armed groups in Ménaka. They were beaten with rifle butts.
  • In April, soldiers arrested three unarmed men, including two Tuaregs and another man, all unarmed, accused of spying for the MNLA in Sévaré. They were beaten with rifle butts before being extrajudicially executed.
  • In September, the military arrested 16 Malian and Mauritanian nationals in Diabaly before extrajudicially executing them on suspicion of being supporters of Islamist armed groups. The 16 were members of a movement of Muslim preachers, the Dawa, who had come from Mauritania to attend an annual meeting of their movement in Bamako. An inquiry was set up but by the end of the year the results had not been made public.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

People suspected of being supporters of the MNLA were arrested and detained without charge.