The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on Monday released its quarterly note on trends in human rights violations and abuses in Mali. It covers the period from 1 April to 30 June 2021.
The second quarter of the year was marked by an increase in the number of civilians affected by violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law. Between April and June, at least 527 civilians were killed, injured, or abducted/disappeared, an overall increase of more than 25% from the first quarter (421).
The main acts of violence against civilians and civilian property occurred in the circles of Bandiagara, Djenne, Douentza, Koro, Mopti, Niono, and Ségou (50%) as well as in those of Ansongo and Gao (15%).
The majority of violent incidents against civilians were perpetrated by the Jama’at nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), and other similar groups, which killed, injured, or abducted 54% of the victims recorded nationwide. This was followed by community-based militias and self-defense groups (20%).
Human rights violations were also documented during security operations conducted by the Malian Defense and Security Forces (MDSF) and international and regional forces. These accounted for 9% and 6%, respectively, of the total number of victims during the reporting period.
JNIM and similar groups continued to strengthen their territorial hold, particularly in the rural areas of Central Mali, with a notable expansion of their activities into the southern cercles of the country, namely Ségou and Sikasso.
Through local “non-aggression or reconciliation” agreements signed under duress by beleaguered communities, these groups have also been able to impose draconian restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms, particularly against women. In addition, violence persists against the backdrop of intercommunal tensions which further fragment the social fabric.
In the face of this situation, the response of the MDSF and international forces has focused on protecting strategic urban centers and conducting military operations while attempting to regain control of some rural areas. In some circumstances, these operations resulted in serious human rights violations against local populations. The absence of judicial authorities in these areas has made it difficult to fight impunity, creating opportunities for JNIM and similar groups to mobilise support within local communities.
MINUSMA welcomes the efforts of the transitional authorities to hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable. In this regard, it is worth noting the recent holding of criminal trials in Mopti and the signing of prosecution orders against military personnel who were allegedly involved in violations against civilians.