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Mali: International community must act to end cycle of violence, says UN Independent Expert

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GENEVA (28 March 2019) – The upsurge of communal violence in Mali in which at least 160 people have been killed must be followed by fresh international action to stem the bloodshed, says a UN human rights expert.

A series of attacks in the central Mopti region on 23 March was followed by renewed violence on 26 March.

“I am saddened by this violence and wish to express my condolences to the victims and their families for these attacks which have taken place against a backdrop of ongoing community tensions,” said the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the country, Alioune Tine.

“There must be a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. The protection of lives and the well-being of civilians is at stake. I appeal to all security forces on the ground as well as the Malian Armed Forces, and the UN force MINUSMA, to strengthen their efforts to protect civilians.

“It is crucial that these inter-communal tensions, and this cycle of violence, are addressed urgently if the risk of crimes against humanity is to be averted. I call on the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to organise a summit to try to find solutions.”

The violence, in the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara in the central Mopti region on 23 March 2019, also left more than 70 people injured. In the worst single attack, more than 150 Fulani herdsmen were killed, allegedly by members of the Dogon ethnic group. The Independent Expert has also been informed that suspected Fulani armed elements reportedly attacked the Dogon village of Ouadou on 26 March, killing four Dogons and burning several homes and the local population fleeing to neighbouring villages. A separate attack the same day on the Dogon hamlet of Kere Kere led to the killing of at least two women and the abduction of 20 others.

The expert said he was concerned about the creation of community-based self defence armed groups in the region.

“The growth in the number of these groups in the past four years, some of them violent and extremist, as well as the destruction of traditional systems of conflict resolution, and the limited presence of the Malian State, have led to the deterioration of the security situation, which has adversely impacted the enjoyment of basic rights by people in the region,” said Tine.

The Expert noted that since January 2019 there had been reports of at least 22 incidents of human rights violations by these groups, which had resulted in the deaths of at least 230 people.

ENDS

Mr. Alioune Tine (Senegal) took office as on 1 May 2018. The mandate of independent expert was renewed by the Human Rights Council on 23 March 2018 for a period of one year to assist the Government of Mali in its actions to promote and protect human rights and in the implementation of the recommendations made in Council resolutions. Mr. Tine was a founding member and President of the African Meeting for the Defense of Human Rights (RADDHO) and Coordinator of the Forum of African NGOs at the World Conference against Racism in 2000. Between 2014 and 2018 Mr. Tine was Amnesty International's Regional Director for West and Central Africa. He has published many articles and studies on literature and human rights.

The independent experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN human rights, Country Page — Mali

For additional information and media inquiries, please contact: Mr. Brian Ruane (+41 22 928 9724 / bruane@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383) jlaurence@ohchr.org

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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