Senior UN official talks about violence in Mali



By Godfrey Olukya 11-10-2012

The assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović has
said violence in northern Mali is becoming systematic.

Speaking at the end of his four-day visit to Mali, he said that he got information that even in south Mali there were cases of violation of human rights especially by the military.

He said, ‘Human rights abuses in the north of the country are continuing, although their character, prevalence and nature have changed significantly
since the start of the conflict.’

He said that unlike at the beginning of the conflict when militants including the Tuareg rebels and the Mouvement National pour la Liberation de l’Azawad (MNLA) were fighting for control of northern Mali and carrying out summary executions of members of the military, rapes, looting, forced displacement and forced child recruitment, now the human rights abuses are through barbaric punishments, introduction of sharia law and sale of women.

Šimonović said, ‘We are now witnessing human rights abuses of a different character. Civil and political rights are being severely restricted as a result of the imposition of a strict interpretation of Sharia law, and systemic cruel and inhuman punishments are being implemented, including executions, mutilations and stoning to death.’

He said that he got information that at least three executions, eight amputations and two floggings have been carried out in recent months. He added that forced marriages are reportedly common, and women are being sold and forced to remarry, which is akin to rape and commercial sexual exploitation.

Šimonović said that he also got reports that women are on sale in north Mali and can be sold for less than 1,000 US dollars. He said that that in order to advance women’s human rights and empower them, it is essential that measures are taken to promote their participation in public life.

He said that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stands ready to lend its support to the Malian authorities, including through appointing a Human Rights Adviser to the UN Country Team in Bamako.

He emphasized the need for investigations into the recent human rights
violations in both the North and the South and said it is essential that the perpetrators are held to account, as a necessary precondition for reconciliation and social cohesion.


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