Mali Denies UN Accusations of Human Rights Abuses

Mali’s foreign ministry is denying accusations of human rights violations made by the United Nations.

An 11-page statement posted on the official social media accounts of Mali’s foreign ministry denies all allegations leveled in a U.N. note that implicated Malian state security forces.

The U.N. mission to Mali, MINUSMA, released a quarterly note on human rights Wednesday, accounting for the period between April 1 and June 30 of this year. The note said that most of the human rights violations in Mali during that period were committed by Islamist militant groups but also says it has documented “serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law” by state security forces. 

The note adds that there was a decrease in all recorded human rights violations compared to the first quarter of 2022.   

Mali’s foreign ministry statement called the allegations against state security forces biased, and said they were made without “tangible proof” and “under the threat of terrorist groups,” with an objective “to tarnish the image of state security forces.”  

Tensions between Mali’s military government and MINUSMA have been rising in recent months. In July, Mali arrested 49 soldiers from Ivory Coast who had arrived as support for a U.N. contingent on their arrival at Bamako’s airport, accusing them of being mercenaries. 

Also in July, MINUSMA’s spokesperson was expelled from the country after he made comments on Twitter claiming the U.N. had notified the Malian government of the soldiers’ arrival. 

The Malian government denied the U.N. access to Moura, Mali, in April, where it wanted to carry out a human rights investigation into an alleged massacre committed by Malian forces working with Russian mercenaries. 

MINUSMA’s quarterly note also claimed to have documented the killing of 50 civilians in Hombori, Mali, by state security forces working with “foreign military personnel.”

The Malian government statement did not address accusations that it is working with foreign military forces. Mali says it only works with official Russian trainers and has received military aircraft and weapons shipments from Russia. 

A number of countries have accused Mali of working with mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group. After nearly 10 years there, France withdrew from Mali in August because of concerns about the country working with the Kremlin-linked paramilitary organization.

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