UN expert urges probe into grave rights violations in Moura

UN expert urges probe into grave rights violations in Moura

A UN human rights expert today called for a full and independent investigation into alleged mass crimes committed in central Mali, and pleaded with all parties to ensure the absolute protection of civilians and to end the vicious cycle of violence.  

Alioune Tine, the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali, expressed alarm about unconfirmed reports that members of the Malian armed forces, accompanied by Russian private military personnel, executed dozens of civilians during a military operation from 27 to 31 March, in Moura, in the Mopti region.

In addition to summary executions and other killings, the expert said there had also been reports of rape, arbitrary arrests, looting and theft.

“In view of the serious allegations of mass crimes, with dozens of civilians killed during these operations, I call on the Malian authorities to conduct a thorough, independent, impartial and effective investigation into all alleged violations as soon as possible,” Tine said. “The findings must be made public and the alleged perpetrators brought to justice.

“The information received at this stage raises serious questions and concerns about potential serious violations of international human rights law and/or international humanitarian law. In addition, some of these violations may constitute crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court,” the expert added.

In a statement on 1 April, the Malian Army Etat-Major confirmed that the armed forces had conducted a “large-scale” military operation in the Moura area from 23 to 31 March. As a result, it said, 203 fighters from “armed terrorist groups” were killed and 51 people arrested. In a statement on 5 April, the Malian Army Etat-Major denied its involvement in human rights violations in Moura.

Failure to bring alleged perpetrators of human rights violations to justice could undermine the confidence of the population in the armed forces and be exploited or instrumentalized by armed groups, presenting themselves as a credible alternative to the failure of the state, Tine said. “The fight against impunity is therefore a priority and a constituent element of the fight against terrorism,” he added.

“I urge the transitional Malian authorities to grant unhindered access to the Human Rights and Protection Division of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) so that it can conduct a thorough investigation to shed light on allegations of serious human rights violations, in accordance with the mandate of the UN Security Council.”

The UN expert repeated his call for the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open investigations as soon as possible to establish criminal responsibility for crimes under the Rome Statute that have been committed in the past and that continue to be committed in Mali.

A wave of attacks by groups such as the Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), as well as some operations by the Malian Defense and Security Forces, have trapped civilians in the grip of jihadist and military violence since the start of the year. (Colombo Gazette)

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