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Mali: Senior UN official calls for human rights and justice to be at heart of fight against terrorism

Mali counter-terrorism

07 November 2017

NEW YORK/BAMAKO/GENEVA (7 November 2017) – Respect for human rights is the cornerstone of the fight against terrorism, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said at the end of a four-day visit to Mali.

Gilmour visited Mali between 2 and 5 November to reinforce the key role of human rights and justice in the peace process, and to discuss the establishment of a human rights compliance framework for the Joint G5 Sahel Force.

The integration of human rights in the peace process and the continued constructive dialogue between the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the authorities must remain a priority, Gilmour said.

During a visit to Mopti, Gilmour expressed concern about the human rights situation there. Many of those he met, including human rights defenders and religious leaders, shared their fears about the worsening socio-economic circumstances and human rights situation. The population in the centre of the country spoke about their fear of terrorist groups in their communities. They also described the closure of schools, limited access to their fields and jobs, and attacks on churches.

“Violations committed during anti-terrorist operations and the stigmatization of certain communities greatly contribute to radicalization and the exacerbation of violent extremism,” Gilmour said. “And in our experience, this is what has happened in many other countries fighting terrorism.”

Andrew Gilmour acknowledged the security challenge that the Malian authorities and the Defence and Security Forces face, and the heavy price paid by Malian soldiers during security operations. Gilmour confirmed that the UN Human Rights Office intends to support the Malian army and the G5 Sahel States and their forces to put in place mechanisms to prevent and respond to violations that may be committed during counter-terrorism operations, and to strengthen the UN’s monitoring of human rights.

A clear signal must always be sent by political, military and judicial authorities that there will be no tolerance for violations, Gilmour added. “The fight against impunity can serve as a precondition to the fight against terrorism,” he said.

Military operations alone will not solve the problem of violent extremism, the Assistant Secretary-General said. Adequate support must consistently be provided to the criminal justice system to manage the follow-up of arrests made during military operations, and a workable strategy must be adopted to address the problems of exclusion.

The Assistant Secretary-General also highlighted the fundamental role of civil society and praised the courage of human rights defenders who speak out about the serious challenges that the population faces. 

He also acknowledged the crucial work of the Justice, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which contributes to reinforcing the peace process. 

Andrew Gilmour commended the mechanism established to exchange information on human rights between MINUSMA and the Ministries of Justice, Human Rights and State Reform, as well as with the Chief of the Malian Armed Forces.

During his visit to Mali, Andrew Gilmour met with the country's authorities, including the Prime Minister and other Government ministers, the army and the judiciary. He also met other actors in the peace process, including the Platform and the Coordination des Mouvements de l'Azawad (CMA), an alliance of armed groups, the diplomatic community, UN entities, as well as civil society, religious leaders, human rights defenders, women's rights groups and LGBT groups. Andrew Gilmour also held a useful meeting with the leadership of the Joint G5 Sahel Force in Sévaré in Mopti.

At the end of his visit, Gilmour expressed his gratitude to the people and authorities of Mali as well as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the staff of MINUSMA for a fruitful visit to a country facing major political and security challenges.


Photos of the visit:

Visite au Mali du Sous-Secrétaire général des Nations Unies aux droits de l’Homme M. Andrew Guilmour                 


Du 2 au 5 novembre dernier, le Sous-secrétaire général des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme, M. Andrew Gilmour, était au Mali. Andrew Gilmour est venu s’e...

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