Rebels, troops in Mali 'committed abuses'
16 May 2012, 11:56
Dakar - Amnesty International said on Wednesday that armed Tuaregs and
Islamists, who seized northern Mali after a coup, had carried out grave
rights abuses such as rape, murder and using child soldiers.
report released by the London-based rights group said soldiers had also
carried out extrajudicial killings, branding the crisis Mali's worst
human rights situation in 50 years.
"After two decades of
relative stability and peace, Mali is now facing its worst crisis since
independence in 1960," said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International's West
Africa researcher after a research mission to the country.
entire north of the country has been taken over by armed groups who are
running riot. Ten of thousands of people have fled the region, creating a
humanitarian crisis in Mali and in neighbouring countries."
rebellion by armed Tuareg nomads prompted overwhelmed soldiers to oust
the president on 22 March, but led to the rebels and their Islamist
allies capturing the north of the country, an area larger than France.
engaged in political wrangling with a former junta on a transition
government, has been unable to focus on the unfolding crisis in the
The Amnesty researchers collected testimony from women and
girls who said they were "raped, sometimes collectively, by armed men
including by members of the MNLA [the main Tuareg separatist Azawad
Liberation Movement], particularly in Menaka and Gao".
"Delegates found evidence of the presence of child soldiers within the ranks of the armed Tuareg and Islamists groups..."
However, the report states that soldiers too, were guilty of human rights violations.
soldiers beat and then extra-judicially executed three unarmed people
accused of spying for the MNLA in Sevare [630km north of Bamako] on 18
April 2012," read a statement from Amnesty.
The armed groups have
also tortured and abused captured soldiers, slitting their throats,
according to testimony from other soldiers who were taken prisoner and
The Islamist group, Ansar Dine, which has set
about imposing Sharia law in the towns under its control, including
fabled Timbuktu, is using intimidation, violence and arbitrary killings
to do so.
Mootoo warned that without efforts to protect human
rights "the entire sub-region risks destabilisation through the effects
of political instability, armed conflict in the north and the food
crisis which affects the whole of the Sahel."
Malian authorities and armed groups to allow United Nations and other
humanitarian agencies unrestricted access to refugees and internally
displaced people, particularly in northern Mali.