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يعقد مجلس حقوق الإنسان حوارات تفاعلية منفصلة مع الخبير المستقل المعني بحالة حقوق الإنسان في جمهورية أفريقيا الوسطى

Human Rights Council                                                                                               
MIDDAY

21 March 2017


The Human Rights Council during its midday meeting held separate interactive dialogues with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, and with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo.
 
Presenting her report, Ms. Keita Bocoum commended the Government of the Central African Republic for the progress made in drawing up the legislative and institutional framework, including appointing the Prosecutor to the Special Criminal Court.  This was in stark contrast with the reality on the ground, where local conflicts were proliferating with surprising alliances forming in which nationalist and foreign groups opposed each other with dangerous ethnic connotations.  Insecurity was the greatest problem for the civilian population, as armed groups ruled more than 60 per cent of the territory with total impunity.  There had been no progress in restoring the effective authority of the State outside of Bangui.  More than half the population was in acute need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 470,000 people were internally displaced.  The Independent Expert regretted delays in the implementation of the national plan for the restauration and consolidation of peace, which risked the disengagement of the people and attempts to install peace by force of arms.
 
Speaking as the concerned country, the Central African Republic stated that it needed the help and assistance of the international community.  However, the international community’s concern should not win because the expert’s report was of concern.  The effective restoration of the State’s authority was slow in coming about.  The crisis that the Central African Republic was experiencing seemed to have been put on the back burner by the international community, and the situation could escalate into an unspeakable ethnic war. 
 
In the ensuing discussion speakers welcomed the determination of the democratically elected authorities to end impunity in the Central African Republic, and the progress made since the Bangui forum on reconciliation.  However, they remained concerned about the heightened level of violence and clashes between armed groups.  The Government was encouraged to combat impunity, strengthen the judiciary, and to prosecute all those guilty of human rights violations, especially of crimes against children.  Speakers stressed that good governance and the rule of law were key to achieving reconciliation and stability in the country.  They called on armed groups to cease hostilities and to join the Government’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.  Several delegations appealed to the international community to provide urgent aid to the Central African Republic for development and for setting up a criminal court.
 
Speaking were European Union, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Egypt, Netherlands, Benin, Algeria, United States, Sudan, Portugal, Togo, Congo, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Morocco.
 
Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: World Evangelical Alliance, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, and Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme.
 
During the meeting, the Council also discussed the situation of human rights in Mali with the Independent Expert, Suliman Baldo.
 
Presenting his report, Mr. Baldo noted that although there had been positive developments in Mali, the security situation in the north remained volatile and it deprived many children of their right to education.  Civilians were exposed to risks because of armed groups and bandits who were not controlled.  This was also due to the terrorist groups who carried out abuses towards the civilians and preached radical Islam in central and northern Mali.  The immediate response of the Government forces sometimes strayed from international standards.  The consequence of all this was displacement of the population and the radicalization of youth who thought that injustice was carried out by the State.  Impunity for violations and abuses remained a serious concern, and it had to end.  Some progress had been made in transitional justice, with the opening of the regional office of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.  But, the justice system was not able to attack impunity.
 
Mali, speaking as the concerned country, expressed gratitude to the Human Rights Council for the assistance it had provided to the country in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights since the crisis it had faced in 2012.  It explained that judicial authorities were making efforts to provide a response to all cases brought to their attention.  All the incidents brought to judicial authorities were investigated and prosecuted, including cases involving the armed forces.  The violations of human rights mentioned in the report were largely attributed to jihadi groups. 
 
In the discussion speakers welcomed the efforts of the Government of Mali in the area of human rights despite many challenges, such as the establishment of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, as well as tangible results made to relaunch economic development in the north of the country.  They condemned the violations of human rights by extremist groups which had continued, particularly in the north and centre of the country.  Poverty, inequalities and weak State authority had led to the expansion of extreme violence.  Some speakers deplored the lack of a law that forbade female genital mutilation.  The slow implementation of the 2015 Algiers peace accords had allowed the continued grave violations of children’s rights committed by armed groups.  Human rights had to be at the core of the development of the country to achieve sustainable peace and stability.
 
Speaking were European Union, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, United Nations Children’s Fund, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Egypt, Netherlands, Benin, Algeria, Libya, United States, Sudan, Togo, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Spain, Central African Republic, Morocco and Mozambique.
 
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International Service for Human Rights, and Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme.
 
The Council is having a full day of meetings today.  At 1 p.m., it will hold an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Gustavo Gallon.  It will then hear the presentation of the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Libya, including on the investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner, followed by an interactive discussion. 
 
Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in the Central African Republic
 
Presentation of the Report
 
MARIE-THERESE KEITA BOCOUM, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, presenting her report, commended the Government of the Central African Republic for the progress made in the drawing up of a legislative and institutional framework, including appointing the Prosecutor to the Special Criminal Court.  This was in stark contrast with the reality on the ground, where local conflicts were proliferating with surprising alliances forming in which nationalist and foreign groups opposed each other with dangerous ethnic connotations.  Insecurity was the greatest problem for the civilian population, as armed groups ruled more than 60 per cent of the territory with total impunity.  There had been no progress in restoring the effective authority of the State outside of Bangui, where authority was taken over by armed groups.  More than half the population was in acute need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 470,000 people were internally displaced.  The return of refugees from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad, an essential component of national reconciliation, remained a major challenge; it must be executed with dignity, in security and on a voluntary basis.
 
The Independent Expert regretted delays in the implementation of the national plan for the restoration and consolidation of peace, which risked disengagement of the people and attempts to install peace by force of arms.  Ms. Keita Bocoum hailed the establishment of the first company of the Central African Republic Armed Forces and the ongoing recruitment of 500 police officers, as deployment of professional national security forces was a pre-condition to security and restoration of effective State control.  The authorities were determined to fight against impunity, which was a structural cause of violence in the country.  In that sense, the establishment of the Special Criminal Court was eagerly awaited and the Independent Expert welcomed the appointment of the Special Prosecutor and encouraged the Government to accelerate the appointment of judges and magistrates.  The progressive establishment of local committees for peace and reconciliation must be extended to areas outside of Bangui to facilitate peace and amnesty initiatives. 
 
In conclusion, Ms. Keita Bocoum stressed that the situation in the country was very fragile, and short and long-term challenges were numerous.  Institutional and legislative progress must be consolidated through improvements in security and restoration of the effective control of the State over the territory; the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process; fight against impunity; and through national reconciliation.
 
Statement by the Concerned Country
 
Central African Republic, speaking as the concerned country, said that the Central African Republic needed the help and assistance of the international community.  The international community’s concern should not win, though, because the Independent Expert’s statement was of concern.  The effective restoration of the State’s authority was slow in coming about.  The crisis that the Central African Republic was experiencing seemed to have been put on the back burner by the international community, and the situation could become an unspeakable ethnic war.  For justice to be done, the Central African Republic needed assistance.  Security determined all aspects of national life, and without peace there could be no development. 
 
Interactive Dialogue on the Central African Republic
 
European Union regretted the alarming security situation in the Central African Republic, where armed groups had maintained a high level of violence and had used the weakness of the justice system to pursue criminal activities.  It encouraged the Government to make efforts to fight impunity and adopt measures for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.  Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted that the situation in the Central African Republic required new steps to put an end to the crisis.  Some armed groups were determined to go against the trend of the recommendations of the international community and the will of the people.  France welcomed the determination of the democratically elected authorities to end impunity in the Central African Republic.  The ongoing clashes between the armed groups were very worrying.  France called on these groups to cease hostilities and to join the Government’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.  
 
United Kingdom remained gravely concerned by the deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic.  Incidents of arbitrary killings, kidnappings and sexual violence perpetrated by armed groups persisted.  What progress had been observed in the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme so far?  Belgium welcomed the cooperation of the Central African Republic with the Independent Expert.  However, it shared concern over the worsening security in some parts of the country.  Belgium encouraged the Government to address impunity and to prosecute all those guilty of human rights violations, especially of crimes against children.  Egypt noted the progress made in the Central African Republic since the Bangui Forum on reconciliation.   It urged the Government to combat impunity, strengthen the judiciary and promote the rights of women.  Good governance and the rule of law were key to achieving reconciliation and stability in the country.
 
Netherlands welcomed the work of the Independent Expert and called on the authorities to continue demobilization, disarmament and reintegration measures.  The Independent Expert was asked to elaborate on the current situation in the Central African Republic regarding justice in the country.  Benin thanked the Independent Expert for her update, noting that there had been institutional progress by the authorities though acts of violence were still cause for concern.  The technical and financial partners of the Government should continue their assistance to the Central African Republic.  Algeria welcomed the cooperation of the Central African Republic with various human rights mechanisms, but highlighted that violence and violations of human rights continued, which was worrying.  The international community was urged to provide urgent support to end the crisis that the Central African Republic was experiencing.
 
United States supported the efforts of the Government of the Central African Republic to ensure that those who directed and perpetrated mass atrocities were held to account, and expressed alarm that armed groups controlled swaths of the country.  The Independent Expert was asked what additional actions the Government could take to document abuses.  Sudan thanked the Independent Expert for her report and welcomed positive measures taken to improve the situation on the ground.  The demobilization, disarmament and reintegration programme was essential to restore security; the international community was called on to continue to support the Central African Republic.  Portugal expressed concern about the overall human rights situation in the Central African Republic, saying it was essential that the international community remained committed and did not disengage prematurely from the Central African Republic.  The Independent Expert was asked for more details on her assertion that conflicts in the country were assuming ethnic connotations and what actions should be taken to address that worrying trend.
 
Togo welcomed the Government’s efforts, but underlined its concern at the presence of armed groups in the Central African Republic which committed serious human rights violations on a daily basis, including recruitment of children and sexual violence towards children.  It encouraged the Government to bring the perpetrators to justice.  Congo said the situation in the Central African Republic was worrying and the peace process was not taking effect.  A sentiment of widespread fear reigned in the country, which showed that peacebuilding required disarmament.  Mali congratulated the Central African authorities for their excellent cooperation with the human rights mechanisms.  Mali condemned the serious human rights violations committed by armed groups, and said that disarmament and demobilization were crucial to the peace process. 
 
Côte d’Ivoire encouraged the Central African Republic to fight against impunity and to embrace disarmament, demobilization and national reconciliation.  It appealed to the international community to provide urgent aid for development and for the setting up of a criminal court.  Morocco welcomed the constitutional order in the Central African Republic and congratulated the Government’s cooperation with international mechanisms and steps taken to fight against impunity.  
 
World Evangelical Alliance, in a joint statement with Caritas Internationalis, said that as the Independent Expert had underlined, the Central African Republic had to renew its social contract and promote peaceful co-existence.  The international community was called on to, among other measures, step up its financial and logistical support to the Central African Republic.  International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said sustainable peace required a steadfast fight against impunity for the perpetrators of crimes.  The Council was called on to support Central African Republic Government efforts, and the Independent Expert and the international community were called on to support the fight against impunity and for justice in the Central African Republic.  Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme said the Central African Republic should not be forgotten, noting that the country was currently not able to support the people on its territory.  Half the population depended on humanitarian aid, and the Independent Expert was asked for strategies to alleviate the suffering of displaced children.
 
Concluding Remarks by the Concerned Country
 
Central African Republic, in concluding remarks, said since the donor conference held in Brussels in 2016, the Central African Republic had not shelved its responsibilities.  Nevertheless, against the backdrop of this crisis, the international community had remained powerless.  The country had shown will, but if the State did not have resources for its policies, such diagnoses would continue.  The international community had to stop merely making pledges and transfer funding to the State if the State was to play a role.  All the promises made and the solutions envisaged would not come to fruition unless the international community provided support. 
 
Concluding Remarks by the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in the Central African Republic
 
MARIE-THÉRÈSE KEITA BOCOUM, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, in concluding remarks, noted that if justice was not working in the Central African Republic, there would be no peace, reconciliation, justice and sustainable development in the country.  A national criminal court had to be put in place.  Efforts had been made to train police and prison officers.  However, there were no judges or members of the judiciary.  The Government had to build the judiciary throughout the country in order to prosecute perpetrators of crimes.  Trust had to be built so that victims would come forward.   There had been few arrests so far, but the most emblematic cases had not been prosecuted.  Civilians were afraid because every day they crossed the path of those who were suspected of having committed crimes.  MINUSCA was not fulfilling its entire role so police had to be put in place.  MINUSCA also had to carry out the necessary investigation of the committed crimes.  Full implementation of reconciliation and justice required the involvement of civil society.  Without documentation perpetrators would not be tried. 
 
As for the security situation, there were threats across the country and conflicts had taken on an ethnic component.  Armed groups were linked with different ethnic groups across the country’s borders which could escalate the conflict in the whole of the sub-region.  As for cattle routes, regions could play an important role in discussing that issue.  Regarding the protection of children, measures had been taken and strategies had been developed with international agencies to set up a reintegration programme for the children released by armed groups.  Birth registration would be an important step forward in that respect.  Parents’ awareness should be raised about the need for children to remain children and to return to schools.  As for sexual violence, mapping would show what measures should be taken to address the issue.  Not many funds had arrived in the Central African Republic, which was a problem.  Pledges made in Brussels had not yet been honoured.  The international community had to ensure that the humanitarian needs in the country were met.  The number of displaced persons and refugees was increasing, so there should be an appropriate humanitarian response in line with the country’s needs.  It was vital that the Government pursued reconciliation, justice and sustainable development.  The Government had to ensure that the Special Criminal Court, which should become operational in about 18 to 20 months, was properly resourced.  Victims should be able to find justice; otherwise, they would try to seek justice on their own, Ms. Keita Bocoum concluded.
 
Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Mali
 
Documentation
 
The Council has before it the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali (A/HRC/34/72).
 
Presentation of the Report
 
SULIMAN BALDO, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, presented his fourth report on the situation of human rights in Mali since he had taken office in August 2013.  His mandate had been established by the Council for a period of one year in an effort to help the Government of Mali to put in place the recommendations of the Human Rights Council.  Mr. Baldo said he had undertaken his seventh visit to Mali in November 2016, including visits to Bamako and Timbuktu, the report of which was available on the website of the Council.  His most recent visit had occurred from 26 February to 8 March 2017, whereby he had visited the center of the country, namely in the region of Gao.  The addendum to his report in January reflected the evolution of the situation of human rights since his previous visit.  During the visits, he had heard from numerous victims of violations of human rights in Bamako and Gao.
 
Mr. Baldo thanked the Government of Mali for its cooperation.  He had met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Public Security, and other high-ranking officials.  He had also met with the Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali, as well as representatives of non-governmental originations, media, international organizations, United Nations agencies, and armed groups.  His mission would not have been possible without their input and without the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
 
During his most recent mission, his goal had been to evaluate the human rights situation among the civilians, and whether there was room for peace and reconciliation.  Regarding the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation, there had been positive developments in some parts of the country.  However the security situation in the north remained volatile, depriving many children from their right to education.  Additionally, civilians were exposed to risks because of armed groups and bandits who were not controlled, who stole and attacked people, and who sowed fear and terror.  This was also due to the terrorist groups who carried out abuses towards the civilians and preached radical Islam in the centre and the north of Mali.  The immediate response of the Government forces sometimes strayed from international standards.  The consequence of all this was the displacement of the population and the radicalization of youth who thought that injustice was carried out by the State.  Impunity for violations and abuses committed in the past and today remained a concern in Mali.  Impunity must come to an end.  The justice system was not able to attack impunity.
 
There was progress in some areas in transitional justice, with the opening of the regional office of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.  Mr. Baldo called on the Commission to implement a policy of communication which was more active.  He had saluted, in July 2016, the promulgation of a law on the reform of the national human rights commission in Mali, bringing this institution in line with international principles.  The peacekeeping operation in Mali was one of the deadliest in the world today.  In conclusion, Mr. Baldo paid tribute to those who had given their lives to bring peace and stability to Mali and welcomed the solidarity the international community had shown towards Mali.  In particular, he saluted the African Union, European Union, African Community of West African States, and Organization for Islamic Cooperation, for reiterating their firm engagement in supporting the Algiers Peace Agreement, as well as the efforts by Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali in Niamey in January to set up an interregional force to secure the border regions.  He highly recommended the Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert, so as to allow continuous assistance, as well as to oversee and evaluate the progress made in the promotion and protection of human rights in Mali.
 
Statement by the Concerned Country
 
Mali, speaking as the concerned country, expressed gratitude to the Human Rights Council for the assistance it had provided to Mali in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights since the crisis it had faced in 2012.  Mali was fully committed to all human rights, throughout its national territory.  Making some clarifications, it was stated that judicial authorities were making efforts to provide a response to all cases brought to their attention.  All the incidents brought to judicial authorities were investigated and prosecuted, including cases involving the armed forces.  The violations of human rights mentioned in the report were largely attributed to jihadi groups.  The population was split up, and the State was trying to work with partners to provide protection for the people.  Since the thirty-first session of the Human Rights Council, the Government had undertaken an agreement for peace in Mali, taking measures including among others the adoption of a document on a national policy on transitional justice and a draft law on human rights defenders.  But the situation for human rights remained worrying because of terrorist attacks.  The Government would like complete information on the victims to combat human rights abuses in Mali. 
 
Interactive Dialogue on Mali
 
European Union welcomed the efforts of the Government of Mali in the area of human rights despite many challenges.  It condemned the violations of human rights by extremist groups which had continued, particularly in the north and centre of the country.  Poverty, inequalities and weak State authority had led to the expansion of extreme violence.   
Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, shared the concern over the increase of violence by terrorist groups in Mali.  The gravity of the situation had led Mali to adopt the relevant laws to protect human rights and to ensure peace and reconciliation.  Tangible results had been made to relaunch economic development in the north of the country.   United Nations Children’s Fund noted that despite years of advocacy for a legal ban of harmful practices that affected the lives of the vast majority of girls in Mali, there was no law that forbade female genital mutilation.  The slow implementation of the 2015 Algiers peace accords had allowed the continued grave violations of children’s rights committed by armed groups.
 
Denmark noted that the implementation of the peace agreement in Mali had been slow and challenging, and had overall not improved the human rights situation in the country.  The rights of women and girls remained a concern.  Human rights had to be at the core of the development of the country to achieve sustainable peace and stability.  France welcomed the cooperation of Mali with the Independent Expert.  Effective implementation of the peace agreement still needed to take place, in spite of the return to constitutional order with the recent local elections.  Schools, health care centres and security forces should be re-established in order to achieve peace and reconciliation.  United Kingdom regretted that the overall pace of the implementation of the peace process was too slow.  Restoring basic services, particularly the provision of education and health services, and improving the security situation, remained the greatest challenges.  It called on the Government to increase efforts to combat violent extremism and to effectively tackle modern slavery and human trafficking.
 
Belgium commended the adoption of the national policy on human rights and the law to protect human rights defenders.  Nevertheless it lamented the failure to implement the peace agreement.  Violence against women, including sexual violence and gender-based violence, were of high concern.  Egypt praised the efforts by the Independent Expert and Mali’s cooperation with the mandate.  It noted the efforts made by the Government to bring about dialogue and reconciliation, ensure peace in the country, as well as promote human rights, and urged Mali to address the terrorist attacks which compromised these efforts.  Netherlands said it had long warned about the deteriorating situation in the central regions of Segou and Mopti.  It was necessary to allow the return of the State authorities in order to make all Malian people feel that the State worked on their behalf, particularly in central Mali, which was excluded from the peace agreement.
 
Benin was concerned about acts of violence perpetrated in the north and centre of Mali.  It welcomed the commitment of Mali and the international community to return peace and security to the country.  The implementation of the peace and reconciliation agreement represented a necessary guarantee affording protection of civilians.  Algeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, was concerned about the unstable situation in the north and centre of Mali due to terrorist attacks.  It shared the view that the situation required a global response that would allow for lasting peace and human rights, indulging constitutional order in Mali.  Algeria urged the international community to provide technical assistance and capacity building in this direction.  Libya commended the Government of Mali for the efforts and progress made through the signing of the peace and reconciliation agreement in 2015.  It encouraged the Government to implement the 2016 agreement which considered all aspects and fostered human rights in the country.
 
United States agreed that the human rights situation in Mali was of great concern, particularly as violence continued and progress on implementing the peace accord was slow.  What could be done to encourage parties to the peace accords to be accountable to their commitments and end violence, and what other actions could be taken to document violations and abuses?  Sudan commended the progress made in the constitutional review process and said that promoting dialogue and national reconciliation in the settlement of the crisis would aid the restoration of the rule of law.  Togo noted with satisfaction the adoption of the national human rights policy, the establishment of the national human rights commission, and welcomed the establishment of the fund for assistance to victims of conflict-related grave human rights violations.
 
Angola was concerned about delays in the implementation of the peace accords which had contributed to the worsening human rights situation in Mali, and urged the Government to strengthen its cooperation with the United Nations system to ensure stability, security and effective peace.  Côte d’Ivoire noted that Mali had worked at establishing institutions and welcomed positive developments in operationalizing the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.  Lack of trust between parties to the peace agreement was an issue of concern, as it aggravated the political and security situation in the country.  Spain was very concerned about the insecurity affecting the population in some areas of Mali, as well as the phenomenon of trafficking in persons.  The commitment to improve the situation in detention centres, and to ensure access to justice had not been realized yet.
 
Central African Republic encouraged all Malian stakeholders to implement the peace and reconciliation process.  It encouraged Mali to prosecute systematically all perpetrators of human rights violations.  Morocco welcomed the progress and efforts made by Mali in bringing security to the country.  Despite difficulties, the authorities had maintained their commitment to human rights.  Mali needed international support to help its efforts.  Mozambique welcomed the Independent Expert’s report, and noted that the peace process had been challenged by the lack of cooperation by the armed groups.  The situation in the north hindered the human rights of the Malian people.  There was a need to speed up the implementation of the peace agreement.
 
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues called on the Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert.  It was concerned about the failure to implement the peace agreement of 2016 in the northern and central areas of the country. Over 330 persons had been killed in 2016.  International Service for Human Rights welcomed the publication of the law establishing the national human rights commission in line with the Paris Principles.  It commended Mali for being the second country in Africa to take measures to protect human rights defenders, and encouraged the implementation of the law on this subject.  Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme was concerned about the escalation of the security situation in the north and centre of Mali due to the failure to implement the peace agreement.  It was concerned about the recent announcement of extremist groups under the banner of Al-Qaeda to undermine the peace process.  International Catholic Child Bureau, in a joint statement with MIAMSI (Mouvement International d'Apostolate des Milieux Sociaux Independants, said children suffered most in Mali as they had been recruited, subjected to exploitation, and abused sexually.  The fight against impunity had been weakened due to the inaccessibility of the justice system for girls and the unaffordable complaints mechanism.
 
Concluding Remarks by the Concerned Country
 
Mali, speaking as the concerned country, reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and peace.  Mali urged the international community to continue to provide assistance, including through supporting the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), supporting the State administration in its tasks, and renewing the mandate of the Independent Expert.
 
Concluding Remarks by the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Mali
 
SULIMAN BALDO, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, responding to concerns raised about delays in the implementation of the peace accords, said that indeed, they contributed to the worsening security situation in the country, and the tendency of militias to exploit ethnic dimensions in recruitment and establishing support for their groups.  Today, there was a trend for extremist groups operating in the centre of Mali to exploit tensions and rivalries between local communities linked to limited resources.  Another issue was the reluctance of some parties to the peace agreement due to their feeling of under-representation in future institutions, which then led to conflict in some areas of Mali, for example in Gao, where buildings of interim authorities had been occupied.  Those incidents showed the lack of ability of some parties to ensure discipline among their ranks.  It was in the interest of the enemies of the peace to destabilize Mali and weaken the peace agreement so that they could strengthen their position and spread radical ideology.
 
Another concern was the increasing phenomenon of international trafficking of arms and people by extremist groups, which was an evidence of the regional dimension of this situation, and which could only be addressed by Mali’s neighbours and the international community.  Mali alone could not address those complex trans-regional challenges.  The security situation in the north of the country was worsening; it was partly due to the absence of the State, but also because this absence meant that very few basic services were provided to the population, making them susceptible to calls of the extremists.  Addressing this problem was not an easy task and Mali needed the support of the international community in order to succeed. 
 
The Independent Expert stressed that one thing Mali could do on its own and in the short-term, was to strengthen the political will to improve the judiciary and increase the allocation to the justice sector from less than one per cent of its gross domestic product to up to three per cent.  This increase would be a clear demonstration of Mali’s commitment to strengthening the fight against impunity and reinstating the rule of law.  Until the financing of the judiciary as a whole was resolved, Mali could invest in mobile justice systems, with teams visiting areas of concern such as the north and centre of the country, and dealing with terrorism-related cases.  There was also a need to ensure access to justice to women victims of conflict-related gender-based violence, as currently, a very small proportion of cases had been heard. 
 
Finally, Mr. Baldo urged the international community to address the threat of the alliance of the five extremist and terrorist groups, currently operating in the heart of Mali, which had declared its intention to truly become firmly rooted in the country, and also spread its influence throughout the Sahel and even North Africa.  Additionally, there must be concerted effort to ensure access of children to education as 400 schools had been closed throughout the country, but most were situated in the three insecure counties.  

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