Why Did Mali Expel Human Rights Chief of UN Peacekeeping Mission?

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Malian authorities to rescind their expulsion order for his top representative in the country. Volker Türk said that he deeply regretted the decision. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has also expressed hi deep regret the decision.

On Sunday February 5, 2023, the Malian interim government said the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission's human rights division had 48 hours to leave the country as he had been declared persona non grata. In a statement, government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga accused Guillaume Ngefa Atonodok Andali, head of MINUSMA's human rights section, of bias in the choice of civil society witnesses for UN Security Council briefings on Mali.

The Malian government particularly singled out the most recent briefing, which took place on January 27, where rights activist Aminata Cheick Dicko denounced the security situation in the country. At that briefing, UN Deputy Representative Richard Mills described Russian military contractor, the Wagner Group, as a "criminal organization that is committing widespread atrocities and human rights abuses in Mali and elsewhere."

Mills also said the Malian authorities had blocked the MINUSMA mission from deterring and responding to attacks as well as investigating alleged human rights abuses on 237 separate occasions.

The Malian authorities have come under pressure for alleged human rights violations and abuses reportedly perpetrated by Malian armed forces in partnership with Russian military contractor, the Wagner Group.

In August 2022, Malian authorities also expelled MINUSMA spokesperson Olivier Salgado, and ordered the temporary suspension of the mission's group rotations.


The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, has supported peace and reconciliation efforts in the country (file photo).

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