The International Criminal Court (ICC) should investigate killings, rapes and torture and other possible crimes recently carried out in Mali, Amnesty International said as the country’s government formally asked the Court to step in.
Mali’s Minister of Justice Malick Coulibaly delivered a letter to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday, referring the situation in Mali since January 2012 on the basis that national authorities are unable to investigate and prosecute the crimes.
“This is the fifth time an African state has either referred crimes committed on its own territory to the ICC or accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction, indicating that governments across the continent are now acknowledging the importance of the ICC in providing justice to victims,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director.
The ICC Prosecutor has responded to the referral by announcing that her office will conduct a preliminary examination to determine whether an investigation should be opened.
“The fact that the ICC is examining the situation in Mali sends an important message to those planning and committing these crimes that they cannot act with impunity and may be brought to justice,”
“However, it’s crucial that the Court looks at the full scope of alleged crimes across the country, including those carried out by Malian security forces.”
Since the beginning of the armed conflict in northern Mali in January 2012, armed opposition groups have committed human rights abuses, including torture and killings of Malian soldiers who had been captured; rape of women and girls and recruitment of child soldiers. They have also attacked and destroyed cultural and religious sites.
Malian security forces have also committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the extrajudicial executions of Tuareg civilians, indiscrimate shelling of a Tuareg nomadic camp and killing livestock which the nomadic population rely on for survival.
Human rights violations are not confined to the north of the country. Torture, extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances and attacks against political leaders, journalists and other people who expressed dissent peacefully are also being reported in the south.
“If the Prosecutor decides to open an investigation, it is vital that the Court is provided with sufficient resources to conduct the work and that Mali and other governments cooperate fully to ensure justice for the victims.”