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Pillay condemns amputations, human rights violations in Northern Mali

GENEVA (17 September 2012) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Monday condemned the ongoing human rights violations in Northern Mali, including cruel punishments like amputations, and called on the Government and the international community to urgently address the crisis.

At least seven men have suffered amputations carried out by the Movement for the Unity of the Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Ansar Dine, including one man who had a hand amputated yesterday (Sunday) for theft. Reports suggest that about 30 men accused of a variety of offences are awaiting punishment, possibly including amputations.

“According to credible reports that my office has received, the various armed groups currently occupying Northern Mali have been committing serious human rights violations and possibly war crimes,” she said. “These include cruel punishments, such as amputations, the stoning to death of an unmarried couple, summary executions, recruitment of child soldiers, as well as violations of women’s rights, children’s rights, freedom of expression, the rights to food, health, education, to freedom of religion and belief, and cultural rights.”

The Committee against Torture has condemned the amputation of limbs and the use of stoning as violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Mali is party.

In a report to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, Pillay outlined a host of human rights abuses and alleged violations of international humanitarian law in Northern Mali, calling for urgent national and international action to bring an end to the political instability that has been fuelling the violence.

“I strongly condemn attacks on the civilian population, sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers and forced displacement, as well as the destruction of Mali’s world heritage sites. Armed groups must abide by human rights and international humanitarian law,” she said.

“I am afraid the humanitarian and human rights situation in the whole of the Sahel region will dangerously deteriorate if the crisis in Northern Mali is not urgently addressed.”

According to humanitarian sources, at least 30 women aged between 12 and 45 have been subjected to sexual violence by armed men in the region of Gao. Public health campaigns on cholera prevention have reportedly been banned by MUJAO militants on the grounds that music and other messages from humanitarian agencies are contrary to Sharia – despite the fact that a cholera epidemic has been confirmed in Gao. Key medical programs have been suspended and in Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, schools are closed or education suspended.

To read the full oral report of the High Commissioner to the Human Rights Council on the situation in Mali, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session21/A-HRC-21-64_en.pdf

ENDS
UN Human Rights Country Page – Mali:
http://www.ohchr.org/en/countries/africaregion/pages/mlindex.aspx

For more information about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, go to:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HighCommissioner.aspx

For more information or media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org)

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