The armed conflict in the north of the country and the military coup that ensued led to very serious human rights violations committed by the security forces, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture. Armed groups in the north committed abuses including sexual violence, deliberate and arbitrary killings and corporal punishments. Both sides recruited child soldiers.
In January, Tuareg and Islamist armed groups launched an uprising which triggered in March a military coup in the capital, Bamako, which overthrew the democratically elected President, Amadou Toumani Touré. This resulted in the de facto partition of the country in April. Despite the appointment in April of an interim Head of State and Prime Minister, the military coup leaders, under Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, remained politically influential.
The conflict in the north resulted in military and civilian casualties and led to the mass displacement of more than 400,000 people, who found refuge in the south of Mali, or in neighbouring Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.
From April, the north was under total control of several armed groups including the Tuareg’s Azawad National Liberation Movement (Mouvement national de liberation de l’Azawad, MNLA) and three Islamist groups: Ansar Eddin, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
In July, the government referred the crisis situation in the country to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the basis that national authorities were unable to investigate and prosecute these crimes. In July and August, the ICC sent a preliminary investigation to determine whether an investigation should be opened. The results were not known by the end of the year.
In October, African leaders from ECOWAS decided to draw up a plan for military intervention to retake control of the north with the endorsement of the UN and several other governments, including France and the USA.
In December, the UN Security Council authorized an African-led force to use “all necessary measures” to take back northern Mali from armed groups.Top of page
In its fight against the MNLA, the army launched several indiscriminate attacks against civilian targets in the Kidal region.
People suspected of being supporters of armed groups or targeted because they were Tuareg, were victims of torture and other ill-treatment or extrajudicial executions by security forces.
People suspected of being supporters of the MNLA were arrested and detained without charge.
Extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture
In May, after an attempted counter-coup, soldiers and police officers loyal to former President Touré were tortured and extrajudicially killed or were victims of enforced disappearance. Two soldiers were stabbed to death at Kati military camp near Bamako by army personnel loyal to the junta. More than 20 others were victims of enforced disappearance after being abducted from their cells. They remained unaccounted for at the end of the year. Some of the soldiers and police officers were subjected to sexual abuse and held in harsh conditions during their interrogation and detention.
The military junta arrested and arbitrarily detained political opponents who protested against their coup.
Freedom of the press
From March, the military junta targeted journalists to prevent them from reporting news.
Arbitrary killings and torture
Armed groups committed serious infringements of international humanitarian law by torturing and executing Malian soldiers taken prisoner.
Violence against women and girls
During and after the seizing of the north by armed groups, a number of women and young girls were raped, sometimes gang-raped, by members of these groups. Most of the women were abducted at home or in the street and taken to a military camp.
Islamist armed groups inflicted corporal punishment and deliberate and arbitrary killings on people who refused to comply with the new rules and behaviours they imposed according to their interpretation of Islamic law.
A number of people accused of theft or robberies had limbs amputated following sham trials.
Parties on both sides of the conflict recruited child soldiers.
In the government-controlled area of the country, self-defence militias recruited and trained children with the support of the authorities ahead of a planned offensive to regain control of the north.
Children were also recruited by the armed groups that took control of the north of the country. They were often posted at checkpoints to search passers-by.Top of page
The right to education in the north was undermined by AQIM who forbade the teaching of French in schools and the mixing of boys and girls.
The right to culture was undermined as armed Islamist groups destroyed historic mausoleums. They claimed it was to put an end to the cult of saints.
At the end of the year, 14 hostages were being held by armed groups, including AQIM, in the north.
Bamako’s Court of Assizes sentenced 10 people to death during the year. Four were convicted of criminal association, robbery, conspiracy and illegal possession of firearms, and two were convicted of complicity in murder.Top of page