UN condemns Mali rights abuses
22 March 2013, 17:06
Geneva - The United Nations condemned human rights crimes
committed in northern Mali by "rebels, terrorist groups and other
organised transnational crime networks" and agreed to appoint an
independent monitor for the West African country.
The 47-member UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution
brought by Gabon on behalf of African states without a vote on Thursday that
also called for free and transparent elections in Mali, which is fighting an
Islamist insurgency in the north.
Activists said the UN resolution failed to address reports
of abuses by government forces in Mali, where French troops have been in action
since January 11 to prevent the north from becoming a launch pad for Islamist
militant attacks in Africa and beyond.
"While we welcome this resolution, the Council's
failure to clearly condemn serious violations recently committed by members of
the Malian army is a disservice to the Malian people," Human Rights Watch
said in a statement.
"If Mali is to turn a new page, the new UN expert and the
UN rights monitors will have to investigate abuses by all sides and hold the
Malian authorities accountable for their part," the New York-based human
rights group said.
Ireland's ambassador Gerard Corr, speaking for the European
Union (EU), voiced concern at what he called "the proliferation of
testimonies of heinous crimes committed by Malian soldiers" and urged
authorities there to "prevent such excesses".
The French-led offensive in Mali has pushed Islamists out of
northern towns and remote mountain bases, but militants have hit back with
several suicide bombings in newly freed towns.
Mali's ambassador Sidiki Lamine Sow said his country has
been shaken by violence and a "climate of terror", which has driven
hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, created a humanitarian crisis
and threatens regional stability.
"This is the place to note the determination of Mali's
highest authorities to fight against impunity in all its forms," Sow told
the Geneva forum.
"Armed groups and drug traffickers responsible for the
unacceptable aggression in Mali have committed grave violations, including
rape, pillaging, summary executions, torture and cruel and degrading treatment,
hostage-taking, and slave practices," he said.
The UN resolution called on Mali's government to guarantee
freedom of expression and to "organise free, transparent elections as soon
as possible with a view to creating conditions conducive to a return to
constitutional order, to a lasting and inclusive reconciliation".
It condemned "the excesses and abuses committed in the
Republic of Mali, particularly in the north of the country, by, among others,
the rebels, terrorist groups and other organised transnational crime
Abuses included violence against women and children, summary
executions, hostage-taking, pillaging, destruction of cultural and religious
sites, and recruitment of child soldiers, it said.
Al-Qaeda's wing in north Africa said it had beheaded a
French hostage in retaliation for France's intervention in Mali, Mauritania's
ANI news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a spokesman for the group.