The United States is appalled by the disregard for human life exhibited by elements of the Malian Armed Forces in cooperation with the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group – a transnational criminal organization – during the operation in Moura, Mali in March of last year. As we have said before, the Wagner Group is a destabilizing force whose personnel have engaged in an ongoing pattern of abuses, including execution-style killings, sexual violence, and torture in Mali and other nations struggling with instability.
The United States continues to stand with the Malian people in the fight against terrorism. Human rights abuses and violations like those committed at Moura will serve only to drive aggrieved civilians into the ranks of terrorists and other armed groups. We call on the transition government to pursue an independent, impartial, efficient, exhaustive, and transparent investigation to hold those responsible accountable, consistent with the recommendation in the UN report.
We commend the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for its diligence and tenacity in investigating these abuses, which include gang rape and other sexual violence, torture, and extrajudicial killings, particularly in light of restrictions imposed by the transition government on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). We recall that, since the Security Council first authorized MINUSMA in 2013, it has mandated the mission under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to investigate and report on allegations of human rights violations and abuses. It is vital that MINUSMA be able to implement this mandate unimpeded. We continue to be troubled by the transition government’s restrictions on MINUSMA’s freedom of movement contrary to the status of forces agreement and urge the transition government to uphold its responsibilities as a host country to a UN peacekeeping operation.