Mali: "We Haven't Seen Our Cellmates Since"

Report
July 30, 2012

Mali: "We Haven't Seen Our Cellmates Since"

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Enforced Disappearances and Torture of Soldiers and Police Officers Opposed to the Junta

Since the beginning of 2012, Mali has been caught in a turmoil which has shaken the very foundations of the state. Armed groups have conquered the north of the country and now share control of the main cities. These groups have committed crimes under international law and other serious human rights abuses, including rape and sexual violence against women and girls, the recruitment and use of child soldiers, violent attacks against anyone who does not respect their precepts and the destruction of cultural and religious sites.

The south of the country is in the grip of political instability following a military coup that overthrew the democratically elected President, Amadou Toumani Touré, on March 21, 2012. This military coup led by Captain Amadou Aya Sanogo resulted in serious human rights violations. Many political and military leaders were arbitrarily arrested and detained. Press freedom was undermined following the arrest, kidnapping and threats made against Malian and foreign journalists from armed individuals, suspected supporters of the military junta.

Following pressure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the military junta agreed in April 2012 to the installation of a transitional government intended to organize a Presidential election. However, this government does not seem to hold the real power as demonstrated by the attack suffered by the interim Head of State, Diouncounda Traoré in May 2012, and the repression and intimidation, in total impunity, of opponents of the military junta.

The most serious human rights violations committed by soldiers supporting the junta targeted military and police officers arrested after an attempted counter-coup which took place on April 30, 2012 in Bamako, the capital city. This coup opposed paratroopers, known as the "Red Berets," supporters of former President Touré, and soldiers known as the "Green Berets" supporting Captain Sanogo's coup.

These human rights violations include torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. The repression following this counter-coup was all the more violent as the soldiers and police officers arrested were not held in an official place of detention but were taken to the Kati camp (20 km from Bamako), headquarters of the junta, where they found themselves for more than a month in the hands of the soldiers whom they had opposed.

This report is based on a ten-day research mission conducted by an Amnesty International delegation in Bamako, in July 2012. Delegates were able to take testimonies from all the soldiers and police officers arrested following the counter-coup who are now being held in an official place of detention, camp I of the gendarmerie. This report documents the disappearances, extrajudicial executions and repeated cases of torture, all committed with impunity by soldiers loyal to Captain Sanogo's junta. This text contains a series of recommendations addressed to Malian authorities to be implemented immediately in order to stop the rule of law being undermined.

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