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Report on Mass Graves in Mali

Content by: South-South News

9 August 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — The UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in its latest report released on August 5 said that the peacekeeping mission is investigating mass graves found along with a slew of human rights abuses in the region of Kidal, in northern Mali where violent clashes and fighting between the signatory armed groups, Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad and the Plateforme has intensified in recent weeks, threatening to disrupt the 2015 Peace Agreement.

MINUSMA’s Human Rights Director, Guillaume Ngefa, explained that the mission has investigated reports on 34 cases of human rights violations on this area, including the forced disappearances of minors. “We have established a fact-finding mission due to the fact that we received 67 allegations of serious abuses, and then the mission, the fact-finding mission, conducted at least seven field missions in Anefís, Aguelhok, Amessine, and then also we did – with our two field officers from Ménaka and Gao also conduct additional investigations. So, as a result of this exercise we confirmed that 34 serious human rights abuses have been committed by the signatories party to the agreement.”

MINUSMA deployed a UN investigation team from the Human Rights Division and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to the site to investigate the allegations and document human rights abuses and violation, especially in Anefis, where the existence of mass graves were reported. Out of the 67 allegations, 34 were verified and confirmed, including evidence of enforced disappearances of individuals, including minors, abductions and ill-treatment, as well as cases of property destruction and robbery.

Ngefa, stressed the importance of rigorous reporting. “It’s important for the mission to be very rigorous when reporting on serious cases of abuses or human rights violations,” he said.

Regarding Anefis, the UN Human Rights investigation team were able to observe on the ground, the existence of individual tombs and mass graves but were not able to establish at this stage either the number of people buried or the circumstances of their deaths. “We concluded that there have been two individual graves found, in addition to two mass graves,” Ngefa said, “The challenge that we have is to determine, you know, the way that those people have been executed or killed. We don’t know how many bodies are in those mass graves and individual graves. And then also who are to be responsible.”

Ngefa said it was important to make sure that after the mission leaves there is no retaliation against civilians. “I am glad that for this exercise the armed groups have cooperated to let free the human rights investigation and investigators to do their work. But for us, which is important that to make sure that after we leave there is no retaliation against civilians.”

MINUSMA reminded to all the parties responsible that abuses and violations of Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law perpetrated against unarmed civilians or combatants expose alleged perpetrators and/or accomplices to prosecution before the competent courts for individual or commanding responsibility.

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