Mali is a constitutional democracy. In 2013 President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won the presidential election, deemed free and fair by international observers. The inauguration of President Keita and the subsequent establishment of a new National Assembly through free and fair elections ended a 16-month transitional period following the 2012 military coup that ousted the previous democratically elected president, Amadou Toumani Toure. The restoration of a democratic government and the arrest of coup leader Amadou Sanogo restored some civilian control over the military. Civilian authorities, however, failed at times to maintain effective control over the security forces.
On May 15, the government and the Platform, a loose coalition of armed groups whose interests sometimes aligned with the government, signed a peace accord to end the conflict in the northern part of the country that began in 2012. On June 20, the main alliance of separatist groups, the Coordination of Movements for Azawad (CMA), signed the accord. Despite the accord violent attacks--perpetrated primarily by terrorist groups not party to the peace process--continued throughout the country. These entities included Ansar al-Dine, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Murabitoun, the Macina Liberation Front (FLM), and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). Al-Murabitoun, AQIM, Ansar al-Dine, and the FLM all claimed responsibility for a November 20 attack on the Radisson Hotel in Bamako that resulted in the deaths of 19 civilians.
Violent attacks perpetrated by these terrorist groups constituted the country’s most significant human rights problem. The attacks targeted local government officials and civil society leaders, resulting in deaths, injuries, and property loss. Government officials were afraid to return to their posts, which prolonged the lack of basic services to the country.
Other human rights problems included arbitrary killings by government forces; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary detentions; judicial inefficiency; limitations on press freedom; official corruption; rape of and domestic violence against women and girls; female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); human trafficking; societal discrimination against black Tuaregs, who were subjected to slavery-related practices; discrimination based on sexual orientation; and discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS and albinism. Authorities often disregarded workers’ rights, and exploitative labor, including child labor, was common.
Impunity also continued to be a problem in cases concerning both government and nongovernment actors accused of perpetrating crimes. The government made limited progress in its efforts to prosecute coup leader Sanogo. In the course of its efforts to advance the peace process by releasing detainees, the government released without due process some prisoners accused of serious crimes, such as human rights abuses or financing terrorist groups.
Primarily before the peace accord went into effect on June 20, elements within the Platform--including the Imghad Tuareg and Allies Self Defense Group (GATIA)--and separatist armed groups--including the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA), the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA), and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA)--committed serious human rights abuses, including summary executions, sexual violence, torture, and use of child soldiers. Extremist groups, including affiliates of AQIM, killed civilians and military force members, including peacekeepers. The government, in collaboration with French military forces, conducted counterterrorism operations in the north leading to the detention of extremists and armed group elements accused of committing crimes. While making arrests the government identified recruited child soldiers.