NEW YORK, USA, August 16, 2022 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- A UN expert on Monday welcomed steps taken to restore constitutional order and the return to civilian rule in Mali, but expressed serious concerns about the resurgence of extremist violence and the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
"The deterioration of the security situation in Mali has a considerable impact on the protection of human rights and the humanitarian situation," said Alioune Tine, United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali.
In déclaration published at the end of a ten-day visit to the country, the expert noted the resurgence and frequency of attacks and violence committed by violent extremist groups in the north of the country, in the center and around the capital Bamako.
"There is a deleterious climate marked by suspicion and distrust, with a continuous shrinking of civic space, the hardening of the Malian transitional authorities, and a malaise that does not spare international partners," added Mr. Tiny.
He called on the Malian transitional authorities and international partners to urgently readjust security responses and strategies that have failed to effectively protect civilian populations and their fundamental human rights.
Progress in the implementation of the peace agreement
The UN expert hailed recent progress towards restoring constitutional order in Mali and implementing the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, despite persistent challenges.
"I welcome the adoption by the Malian authorities of a 24-month transition timetable, as well as a timetable detailing the different stages leading to elections and the return to civilian rule," said Mr. Tiny.
He noted that the roadmap for the return to constitutional order in Mali included the promulgation of a new electoral law and the establishment of a constitution drafting commission in June 2022.
At a decision-making level meeting on aspects of the peace accord held in August 2022, consensus was reached regarding the integration of 26.000 ex-combatants into the armed forces and state services, it said. the expert.
Dramatic increase in human rights violations
However, Alioune Tine warned that Mali is facing serious security problems.
The UN expert said that in discussions with key actors in the Ménaka region, they overwhelmingly agreed that the security and human rights situation had improved. deteriorated alarmingly since March 2022. “Three of the four circles in the region – or 75% of the territory – are under the control of violent extremist groups,” the expert said.
Human rights violations and abuses have also risen dramatically, he said, with the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) documenting 1.304 violations and abuses from January 1 to June 30, an increase by 47,17% compared to the previous six-month period.
"Violent extremist groups remain the main alleged perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in Mali, but the high number of violations attributed to the Malian defense and security forces is very worrying," said the expert.
According to him, credible sources reported that in some cases, these violations were committed by the Malian defense and security forces, accompanied by foreign military personnel described as Russian soldiers. He added that Malian authorities continue to deny reports that a Russian private military company is operating alongside Malian security forces. They insist on the fact that the Russian soldiers present in Mali are military instructors deployed within the framework of bilateral State-to-State cooperation.
“Regardless of the status of foreign military personnel, Mali must, in accordance with its international human rights obligations, act with due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish human rights violations and abuses, whether they are perpetrated by the State or by third parties, including individuals, companies or other entities, as well as agents acting under their authority,” Mr. Tine said.
Mali must also ensure that victims receive fair and effective reparations for the harm they have suffered, the expert said.
He urged the Malian authorities to grant national and international organizations and institutions access to areas where human rights violations and abuses have been committed, so that they can independently investigate and report. situations.
“I was particularly shocked to have seen with my own eyes victims bearing on their bodies the visible marks of atrocious, cruel and barbaric torture they had suffered at the hands of the Malian security forces. Their testimonies were untenable,” the expert said.
Shrinking civic space
He was appalled by the continued shrinking of civic space, including media censorship and self-censorship of journalists, media professionals and civil society actors for fear of reprisals.
"This deleterious climate has led several actors to self-censor, for fear of reprisals from the Malian transitional authorities and/or their supporters", specifies the expert.
He recommended that the Malian authorities, the African community and the international community maintain a constructive dialogue to guarantee Mali's stability and security, strengthen efforts to protect the civilian population and avoid the country's isolation. He also insisted on the urgency of supporting the restoration of state authority throughout Mali.
During his visit, Mr. Tine met with Malian authorities, civil society and victims' associations, non-governmental organizations, diplomats and United Nations agencies.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) for UN Info.