Geneva / Bamako — "I am gravely concerned at the continuing deterioration of the overall security situation, which has now reached a critical threshold," said Alioune Tine, the UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali.
"It is time to recognise the inadequacy of the current security responses so Mali can move to more appropriate alternatives as soon as possible. The prolonged failure and lack of presence of state institutions in many areas, along with the dire political, economic and social climate, are causing more and more frustration and resentment among the population.
"Civilians in many areas, and particularly the central areas of Mopti, are being denied basic human rights, including the right to life, as the State is becoming more and more weakened in the face of increasingly violent and deadly attacks on the Malian Army by terrorist groups seeking to destabilise democracy and undermine the morale of the troops. If this trend continues, it will become the most serious threat to regional and international peace."
The expert also highlighted worsening levels of violence, robbery, rape and kidnapping in Timbuktu, and said a resurgence of transnational crime was threatening social cohesion and was going unpunished.
Between August 2017 and September 2019, there were 101 security incidents resulting in 94 deaths, as well as seven kidnappings and 21 carjackings. Sexual violence is also at a high level, with 956 reported cases between January and October 2019 - 43% of them allegedly carried out by armed groups - according to UN figures.
"The victims' organisations I met expressed fears about an explosion of community tensions, which is the consequence of difficulties encountered in accessing basic social services and humanitarian aid," said Tine.
"In central Mali, the worrying frequency of terrorist attacks against the army threatens the foundations of state security. It is equally deplorable that terrorist attacks are being directed against schools, with property destroyed and teachers threatened in Timbuktu, with the closure of one third of the schools in Mopti and 60% in Gao."
Tine said the security situation was also gradually worsening in the central and southern regions of Ségou, Kayes and Koulikoro, but he had been told of a marked improvement in Kidal in recent months.
"Everyone we met deplored the slow pace at which the peace agreement was being implemented," said Tine.
"It is now urgent to create the conditions for its success, including ensuring all mechanisms are in place and working correctly, promoting transparency and good faith, ensuring the State is functioning across the whole country and finding concrete ways to combat terrorism.
"Political, religious and traditional leadership must also demonstrate a high sense of responsibility and work together to maintain national cohesion and to better address the security challenges that threaten the unity of the country."
Tine welcomed the efforts of the Malian government to fight corruption and introduce reforms aimed at creating a more effective and equitable justice system.
During his visit the Expert met the Minister of Foreign affairs, the President of the Constitutional Court, members of the diplomatic corps, UN agencies, and representatives of civil society organisations. He also visited the Timbuktu and Kidal regions, where he met representatives of armed groups as well as youth and women's associations.
He will present a full report to the Human Rights Council in March 2020.
Mr. Alioune Tine (Senegal) took office as independent expert on the human rights situation in Mali on 1 May 2018. The mandate of independent expert was renewed by the Human Rights Council on 23 March 2018 for a period of one year to assist the Government of Mali in its actions to promote and protect human rights and in the implementation of the recommendations made in Council resolutions. Mr. Tine was a founding member and President of the African Meeting for the Defence of Human Rights (RADDHO) and Coordinator of the Forum of African NGOs at the World Conference against Racism in 2000. Between 2014 and 2018 Mr. Tine was Amnesty International's Regional Director for West and Central Africa. He has published many articles and studies on literature and human rights.
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