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Mali: Increasing violence and impunity in central region cause for concern, says UN expert

GENEVA/BAMAKO (21 February 2020) – A UN expert has welcomed the improvement of the security situation in northern Mali but expressed concerns at the increasing violence and impunity in the central region of the country.

"The implementation of the 2015 Algiers Agreement in northern Mali", with the gradual redeployment of the rebuilt Malian Armed Forces (FAMA) in Kidal and Timbuktu and their upcoming deployment in Menaka and Taoudeni, is an important step towards the return to peace," said Alioune Tine, UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali, at the end of his visit to the country.

"This process is the result of the National Inclusive Political Dialogue, which was a major turning point. The resolutions currently being implemented bring a new hope for peace and for a gradual return to a peaceful political process in northern Mali, through the organisation of legislative elections," the expert said.

Tine commended the efforts of the Malian state, armed groups and MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) throughout this process.

However, the situation is deteriorating in the central region, where civilians are falling victims to transnational criminal organizations, terrorist groups and armed militia which are increasingly asserting control of the region, the expert said.  "In central Mali, I observed an accumulation of security, judicial and administrative failures that facilitates mass violence with impunity. The Malian Armed Forces and MINUSMA have failed to provide adequate security for the civilians of the region."

"In particular, I am dismayed by the attack by armed men on the village of Ogossagou, in the Mopti region, on February 14. At least 33 people were killed, three injured and 20 went missing. I was shocked to learn that the Malian armed forces detachment, which had hitherto provided security for the village, had withdrawn from the area the day before," Tine said.

Almost all State and army representatives who the Independent Expert met highlighted that the perpetrators of previous similar attacks in different regions have not been held accountable; and that this impunity is one of the aggravating factors of the current violence. Judicial authorities gave assurances that investigations are underway, but because of the security situation, which means that it is not possible to arrest the alleged perpetrators, and the climate of fear, with witnesses and victims afraid of reprisals, the judicial process is slow.

The growing violence has contributed to a worrying deterioration of the humanitarian situation, the Independent Expert said. According to UN figures, the number of internally displaced persons increased from 99,000 to 207,751 from March to December 2019; and the number of schools closing their doors due to insecurity increased from 866 to 1,113, affecting approximately 333,900 children.

"The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union must urgently find, in cooperation with the international community, effective remedies to end violence and serious human rights violations in central Mali. The UN Security Council as well should reassess the security situation in the region and adjust the mandate of the MINUSMA accordingly. The current violence is increasingly difficult to control and could become a major threat to the entire sub-region," Tine said.

The Independent Expert will present a comprehensive report of his visit during an interactive dialogue organised in March 2020 by the Human Rights Council, in the presence of representatives of the Malian Government.

ENDS

Mr. Alioune Tine (Senegal) took office as independent expert on the human rights situation in Mali on 1 May 2018. The mandate of independent expert was renewed by the Human Rights Council on 22 March 2019 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: Jean-Claude Misenga (+41 22 917 9059 / jmisenga@ohchr.org ).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: The Media Unit (+ 41 22 928 9855 / mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org)

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