Alioune Tine, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, says continuing deadly attacks on civilians in certain areas of the country could be described as crimes against humanity and urged stronger protection of people and property.
Tine made the remarks following the weekend attack on the Dogon village of Sobanou-Kou in central Mali’s Mopti region. He said he had received reports of many people killed and injured, as well as dozens abducted, with high numbers of women and children among the victims. Investigations by the authorities are continuing and further details, including exact casualty figures, will be available soon, Tine said.
The expert said the Sobanou-Kou attack on 9 June which continued overnight is part of an intensification of the deadly cycle of violence in central Mali, and these attacks are regularly carried out against civilian populations.
"Impunity for these crimes gives the perpetrators a sense of immunity – and these human rights abuses, documented almost every week for more than a year, could be characterised as crimes against humanity."
He said he welcomed the government’s quick response to the attacks on civilians in the Mopti region, including incidents on 1 January and 23 March in Fulani villages, as well as others in the area.
"However, I urge the Malian authorities to take more preventive measures to protect civilians, including the establishment of a stronger security presence in the centre of the country, the disarmament and the immediate dissolution of all armed militias, and conduct of effective judicial investigations to bring perpetrators to justice," Tine said. "I would like to stress the absolute necessity, with the support of all concerned partners, to further strengthen the security of people and property in these areas exposed to this spiral of violence."
He said a comprehensive and coordinated approach is needed to prevent further violence and to tackle the problem in a sustainable way.
"I appeal to civil society, traditional and religious leaders, and also to the international community and the regional authorities, to discharge their respective responsibilities.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).