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Malian army accused of war crimes, says UN probe

Fighters from a local armed group Gatia, and pro-government armed group Mouvement de Salut de l’Azawad   -  
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Mali

The Malian army has been accused of committing "war crimes" while there is evidence that several armed groups and jihadists committed "crimes against humanity", according to UN investigators in Mali.

The allegations are made in a massive 338-page report compiled by the International Commission of Inquiry, which was sent to members of the Security Council and obtained by AFP.

The commission said it has gathered "reasonable grounds to believe" that the Malian army has "committed war crimes."

Mali's spiral

In 2012, the Malian military seized power in a coup supposed to halt the army's defeat of the independence and jihadist rebels in the North, plunging the country into an ongoing crisis.

In 2012-2013, the security and defense forces were guilty of "assassinations" targeting "particularly members of the Tuareg and Arab communities," associating them with independence rebels and jihadist groups.

France, the colonial power, launched a military operation in 2013 that scattered the jihadists.

They then regrouped and expanded their campaign into central Mali, inflaming a region with ethnic rivalries, before advancing into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands have died and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes.

The almost 350-page report also advocates for the creation of a court specialized in international crimes.

Established in January 2018, the commission, composed of Sweden's Lena Sundh, Cameroon's Simon Munzu and Mauritian Vinod Boolell, investigated the period between 2012-2018.

It submitted its report in mid-2020 to the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who forwarded it to the 15-member Security Council last week.

Unlike other reports, the findings of this commission could likely provide a legal basis for future trials.

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