The following information is based on the Amnesty International Report 2021/22. This report documented the human rights situation in 149 countries in 2021, as well as providing global and regional analysis. It presents Amnesty International’s concerns and calls for action to governments and others.

MALI 2021

Military forces and armed groups continued to commit human rights violations and abuses against civilians, including war crimes. The intelligence services were suspected of forcibly disappearing senior officials. There were some developments in investigations into the use of lethal force during protests in 2020 but progress was limited regarding justice for violations by the military. The government failed to protect citizens from discrimination based on social status. The Covid-19 vaccine roll-out was slow.


Following a cabinet reshuffle in May, the military arrested the transitional president and prime minister in the second coup in nine months. There were clear signs that the transitional government phase might extend beyond the February 2022 deadline. ECOWAS suspended Mali following the coup and imposed sanctions against several transitional leaders. In October, the ECOWAS Special Representative in Mali was ordered to leave the country.

Civilians bore the brunt of the continuing armed conflict in the Mopti and Ségou regions. In June, the French authorities announced plans for a phased reduction of Operation Barkhane, their regional counterterrorist operation in the Sahel region. Rumours that a Russian private military company would fill the void further strained Franco-Malian relations.

Abuses by armed groups

The Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) committed war crimes and other abuses against civilians.

The GSIM blockaded many villages and communities, restricting residents’ free movement and access to their farmland and water, to force them to cease collaboration with the army. Farabougou village in Ségou region was blockaded for six months until April.

Between April and August, the GSIM blockaded Dinagourou in the Mopti region, denying villagers access to their lands during the rainy season.

In August, ISGS attacks in the Ansongo Cercle killed 51 civilians in the Ouattagouna, Karou and Daoutegeft communes of the Ménaka region.

Violations of international humanitarian law

Military operations in the Mopti region led to serious human rights violations which could in some cases amount to crimes under international law.

On 3 January, the French military killed 22 people who had gathered for wedding celebrations, in an airstrike on Bounti village. The airstrike occurred in the context of Franco-Malian military operations between 2 and 20 January. An investigation by MINUSMA (the UN mission in Mali) concluded that most of the guests were civilians from Bounti and nearby villages, including 19 of those killed, while three were possibly members of Katiba Serma, a GSIM-affiliated group. It recommended that the Malian and French authorities conduct an independent, credible and transparent investigation into the attack and possible violations of humanitarian law.

Following an attack on a Malian military position in Boni (Mopti region) in February, local residents said Malian armed forces committed violations in retaliation, including the enforced disappearance of 17 bus travellers in March and the torture and other ill-treatment of dozens of marketgoers in April.

On 2 April, Malian soldiers extrajudicially executed four people on the outskirts of Diafarabé town, according to the victims’ relatives. The victims, who lived near an army camp, were accused of harbouring people who had attacked the camp that day.

In October, Malian soldiers arrested at least 30 people in Sofara on market day. A video documenting the arrests showed soldiers torturing an elderly man to force him to confess to belonging to an armed group. Later that month, the army announced it was investigating the torture and that the soldiers responsible had been suspended. The same communiqué announced that “22 presumed terrorists” had been arrested in Sofara and held in the gendarmerie’s custody.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

In March, the Appeal Court of Bamako dismissed all charges, due to lack of evidence, against several individuals arbitrarily arrested in December 2020. The detainees, including popular radio host Mohamed Youssouf Bathily – also known as “Ras Bath” – and five senior civil servants had been accused of plotting to “destabilize the institutions of the transition” with former prime minister Boubou Cissé, who was accused but never arrested. They were released from custody in April; however, in May, Ras Bath was arbitrarily detained again for a week after he denounced the judiciary’s complicity in the “sham” investigation against him.

Following the coup in May, the military arbitrarily arrested and detained the former president, Bah Ndaw, and prime minister Moctar Ouane without charge at the Soundiata Keita military camp in Kati; after a few days, Bah Ndaw was transferred to Camp A in Bamako, and Moctar Ouane placed under house arrest in Bamako. The military justified their detention on security grounds. In August, both were released and allowed to move freely.

Two civil servants were forcibly disappeared for two months, allegedly by the Sécurité d’État, before being transferred to Bamako central prison. Kalilou Doumbia, Permanent Secretary to the Presidency under Bah Ndaw, was arrested on 6 September according to Human Rights Watch, and his family was unable to obtain information as to his whereabouts or his fate. On 10 September, Moustapha Diakité, a police commissioner based in Kayes, was also disappeared after he was summoned to a meeting with the National Police high command.It was not until 5 November that the whereabouts of both men became known when, along with Colonel Kassoum Goïta, former head of the Sécurité d’État, and four other individuals, they were charged with criminal conspiracy and plotting against the government.

Right to truth, justice and reparation

In April, the Bamako Assizes Court heard 12 trials on terrorism charges, leading to the conviction of 28 people who were given life sentences, and the acquittal of one. In October, another Special Assizes session in Bamako heard 47 additional cases under terrorism charges. In some cases, violations of the right to a fair trial were documented with illegal pretrial detention by intelligence services and a lack of legal representation during preliminary investigations. In June, the Assizes Court of Mopti tried 12 people for the unlawful killings of 39 civilians from Koulogon-Peul in January 2019. The accused, who had been provisionally released by the court, were convicted in their absence and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges including murder.

There was limited progress in investigations into crimes under international law committed by the military.

In September, the commander of the Special Anti-Terror Force, Oumar Samaké, was arrested and charged with “murder, aggravated assault, lethal assault and complicity in murder”, in relation to the deaths of 14 protesters in 2020 following the use of excessive force by security forces. His arrest led to spontaneous protests by police officers, who freed him from the main prison in Bamako and paraded him through the streets. Oumar Samaké returned voluntarily to pretrial detention after the government gave him an ultimatum.


Discrimination and violence continued against people based on social status arising from their descent. In September, one person was killed and many others injured in a mob attack in Tomora against an Independence Day procession of people belonging to a caste perceived to be inferior.

Right to health

In February Mali received its first batch of 396,000 Covid-19 vaccines through COVAX. By December, 963,968 doses were administered, with 349,000 (1.7% of the population) having received two doses. Vaccinations were mainly concentrated in urban centres due to the lack of security in the central and northern regions and poor medical infrastructure made it difficult to conserve doses for delivery to remote areas. 

Mali Newsroom

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 21, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Mali 2013

REPUBLIC OF MALI 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 …

February 1, 2013 • Report

Mali: First Assessment of the Human Rights Situation After Three-Week Conflict

Evidence documented by Amnesty International researchers shows serious human rights abuses by the Malian army, including extrajudicial executions.

July 30, 2012 • Report

Mali: “We Haven’t Seen Our Cellmates Since”

Amnesty report on Mali looks at enforced disappearances and torture of soliders and police officers opposed to the junta.

March 19, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Mali 2010

Head of state Amadou Toumani Touré Head of government Modibo Sidibé Death penalty abolitionist in practice Population 13 million Life expectancy 48.1 years Under-5 mortality (m/f) 193/188 per 1,000 Adult …

February 1, 2021 • Press Release

Fresh Evidence of Police Misuse of Tear Gas Leading to Protesters’ Deaths and Injuries – Updated Investigative Website

Amnesty International today published new evidence of the misuse of tear gas by security forces in several countries in the second half of 2020, including during protests around the election in Uganda, the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA, and in the repression of protesters in Lebanon.

April 7, 2020 • Press Release

Armed conflicts and state repression in Africa fuel cocktail of human rights violations

HUMAN RIGHTS IN AFRICA: Protesters across sub-Saharan Africa have braved bullets and beatings to defend their rights in the face of continuing conflict and state repression, Amnesty International said today …

January 13, 2020 • Press Release

Delays in ‘Red Berets’ Trial Prolongs Suffering of Victims’ Families in Mali

A Malian court’s last-minute postponement of a former junta leader’s trial is a blow to the families of 21 soldiers whose bodies were discovered in a mass grave in 2012 after they were forcibly disappeared, Amnesty International said today.

June 10, 2019 • Press Release

Despicable killings of civilians in Mali must be investigated

Following the reported unlawful killings of nearly 100 people in an attack on a village in central Mali, Marie-Evelyne Petrus Barry, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa director said: “This …