West Africa: UN Experts Welcome Peace Efforts in Mali, Say Respect for Human Rights Essential

ECOWAS Head of Staes in Mali (file photo).

GENEVA (24 July 2020) - UN human rights experts* today applauded the efforts of West African leaders to restore peace and stability to Mali, which is in the grips of a weeks-long political crisis.

"The Thursday visit to Mali by the presidents of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal brings fresh hope for a return to true democracy," said Clément Nyaletsossi Voulé, Special Rapporteur on rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, and Alioune Tine, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali.

"We strongly urge Mali to fulfil its human rights obligations," the two experts said. "Respect and protection of human rights in Mali is essential for a peaceful solution to the current crisis, and for security not only in the country, but also in the entire sub-region."

The fact that so many thousands of people have turned out to protest in recent weeks shows how highly Malians value the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, the two experts said.

They urged the Malian authorities to fully respect and guarantee those rights as well as guaranteeing the life and physical integrity of the demonstrators. They called on both sides - including the demonstrators - to refrain from violence, and said security forces should follow international norms on the use of force.

They particularly condemned the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators that resulted in at least 14 deaths and 150 injuries on 10 and 11 July. "Excessive use of force will only fuel anger and endanger any possibility of a way out of the crisis," they said.

Voulé and Tine welcomed the release of some 200 people arrested during the demonstrations, pending investigation and trial, but reminded authorities that no one should be convicted for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

"We also call for a prompt, transparent, impartial and thorough investigation into allegations of excessive use of force by the Malian security forces on demonstrators in protests organised by the 5 June movement. The authorities must make available data on the number of people arrested, injured and killed during the demonstrations and ensure that those responsible for these abuses are brought to justice."

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