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 did not always maintain effective control over the security forces.
Despite the peace accord signed in June 2015 between the government, the Platform of northern militias, and the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA), violent conflict between CMA and Platform forces continued throughout the northern region. Terrorist groups not party to the peace process--including Ansar al-Dine, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Murabitoun, and the Macina Liberation Front (FLM)--carried out attacks against the military, armed groups, and civilian targets throughout the northern and central regions.
Abuses committed against civilians during violent clashes between Platform and CMA fighters in and around the region of Kidal constituted the most significant human rights problem. Abuses included arbitrary detention, destruction and seizure of property, and killing of civilians. Violent clashes in the city and region of Kidal targeted rival fighters and civilians, resulting in deaths, injuries, arbitrary detentions, disruption of humanitarian assistance, and property loss. The inability to resolve the violence delayed implementation of the peace accord in the north, which prolonged the lack of basic services. Violent clashes in February and March in the Menaka area between armed elements allied with CMA and Platform forces also targeted civilians and resulted in numerous deaths.
Other human rights problems included arbitrary killings by government forces; disappearances; abuse of detainees, including torture; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary detentions; judicial lack of independence and inefficiency; restrictions on speech, press, assembly, and association; 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 and employers often disregarded workers’ rights, and exploitative labor, including child labor, was common.
The government made little or no effort to investigate, prosecute, or punish officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government, and impunity was a problem. Coup leader Sanogo, first arrested in 2013, remained under arrest awaiting trial. Sanogo’s trial began in Sikasso in December, but the presiding judge accepted a defense motion to delay the trial until early 2017. While the International Criminal Court convicted one person on a war crimes charge relating to the destruction of religious sites in Timbuktu, impunity for serious crimes committed in the north continued.
Despite the June 2015 peace accord, elements within the Platform--including the Imghad Tuareg and Allies Self-defense Group (GATIA), the Arab Movement for Azawad-Platform (MAA-PF), and the Coordination of Patriotic Resistance Forces and Movements (CMFPR)--and elements in the CMA--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. Reports of abuses rarely led to investigations or prosecutions.
Chadian peacekeepers from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) were accused of numerous human rights abuses in Kidal Region, including killings, abductions, and arbitrary arrests (see section 1.g.).