The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) undertook a fact-finding mission to the Republic of Mali from 3 to 7 June 2013. The mission was conducted in accordance with the AU Peace and Security Council decision adopted at its 327th meeting which was held on 14 July 2012 and approved by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in its Solemn Declaration on the Situation in Mali during its 19th Ordinary Session held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 16 to 17 July 2012.
The African Commission delegation was composed of:
- Commissioner Reine Alapini Gansou, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa and Commissioner responsible for human rights promotion in the Republic of Mali, head of delegation;
- Commissioner Mohamed Béchir Khalfallah, Chairperson of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa;
- Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, Chairperson of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV and those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV;
- Commissioner Maya Sahli Fadel, Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa.
The members of the Commission were accompanied by Mrs Anita Bagona, Mr Charles Beautrel Nguena and Mr Fred Tamakloe, staff members of the Secretariat of the African Commission.
The objective of the mission was to investigate the human rights situation in the north of Mali, including violations committed against Malian soldiers and their families in Aguel’hoc in January 2012. The mission also examined information relating to human rights violations committed in other parts of the country.
During the mission, the delegation held fruitful discussions with the country’s highest authorities, including the Prime Minister Mr Diango Sissoko. The delegation met with representatives of the Ministry of External Relations and International Cooperation, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Worship, Ministry of Defence and Former Combatants, Ministry of Internal Security and Civil Defence, Ministry of Territorial Administration, Decentralisation and Regional Planning, Ministry for the Empowerment of the Family, Women and Children, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Solidarity and the Elderly, Ministry of Culture, and Ministry of Malians Abroad and African Integration.
The delegation held meetings with several national institutions, including the National Human Rights Commission and the Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission. It also met with representatives of regional organisations such as AFISMA, and the UN including MINUSMA, UNHCR and UN Women. The delegation met with several representatives of civil society and national and international NGOs working in the area of human rights and international humanitarian law, including the ICRC.
The delegation gathered testimonies from the beneficiaries of the victims of the Aguel’hoc attacks, survivors and witnesses on the human rights violations committed in the north of Mali. Through these testimonies the delegation was able to gather information on the human rights situation in Mali.
For logistical and security reasons, the delegation was unable to visit the northern region. It however visited the Niamana camp to learn about the situation of internally displaced persons. The delegation also visited the accommodation centre of the Association for the Progress and Defence of the Rights of Malian Women (Jigiyaso-Maison de l’espoir) where it met with women victims of the conflict in the north of Mali.
The delegation visited the Bamako Central Prison and interviewed people detained in connection with the events which occurred in the north of Mali. The delegation also visited the Camp 1 detention centre of the national Gendarmerie where it met with military personnel involved in procedures relating to the military takeover of 30 April 2012.
At the end of the fact-finding mission, the delegation notes with concern that several cases of serious human rights violations were committed in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal.
A detailed mission report including recommendations will be submitted to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in January 2014.
In the meantime, the delegation wishes to commend the Government of Mali for its commitment in resolving the crisis in the northern part of the country and calls upon the Malian authorities to investigate human rights violations committed in the country and to prosecute the perpetrators of such violations.
The delegation would like to express its gratitude to the Malian authorities for the measures taken to ensure the smooth conduct of the mission and commends all the stakeholders for their collaboration and openness during the mission.
Bamako, 7 June 2013