Mali facing deep crisis, Amnesty International says

Fighting in northern Mali has resulted in hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Story highlights

  • Rebels have taken over northern Mali
  • Amnesty International reports arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial executions and sexual violence
  • Both sides have committed abuses, the human rights group says
Violence and the resulting displaced people have created a crisis in Mali that is the worst in its recent history, a new report by Amnesty International says.
Fighting in northern Mali has resulted in hundreds of thousands of displaced people, the human rights organization said. Many have been subjected to arbitrary detention, extrajudicial executions or sexual violence, the report found.
Since the beginning of 2012, the report found, Mali has faced a situation that has "questioned both the integrity of its territory as well as almost 20 years of political stability."
Fighters arriving from Libya in early 2012 fueled a Tuareg rebellion that included attacks against Malian outposts in the north of the country, the report said. The rebels are accused of violating international humanitarian law because they executed soldiers they caught in combat. According to Amnesty, the Malian army responded by bombing indiscriminately to civilian areas.
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Adding to the country's woes, in March, a group of noncommissioned officers took power after a military coup.
The new government suspended the constitution and arrested political leaders, Amnesty reported.
While the military leaders sought legitimacy for their government, the armed groups took over northern Mali.
"After two decades of relative stability and peace, Mali is now facing its worst crisis since independence in 1960," Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International's West Africa researcher, said in a statement. "The entire north of the country has been taken over by armed groups who are running riot. Tens of thousands of people have fled the region, creating a humanitarian crisis in Mali and in neighboring countries."
As of May, there were about 130,000 internally displaced people in Mali and an additional 190,000 who fled to neighboring countries as refugees, the report states.
Amnesty International spoke with witnesses who talked about women and girls being raped by armed men and found child soldiers among the ranks of the Tuareg.
Meanwhile, Malian security forces are accused of killing unarmed people.
According to the organization, all parties in the conflict have committed human rights violations.