The military, rebel forces including the MNLA, HCUA, and MAA; nongovernmental progovernment forces including the CMFPR; and extremist organizations including AQIM, MUJAO, Al Murabitoun, and other affiliated groups committed serious human rights abuses in the north. These included arbitrary killings, abuse, and disappearances. Most military abuses targeted Tuareg and ethnic Arab rebels and were in reprisal for attacks by those groups. The armed group alliance of the MNLA, HCUA, and MAA, as well as progovernment militias, held hostages and used child soldiers during the year.
On March 20, the National Assembly adopted a law establishing a new Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission, but the commission had not appointed members or begun investigations by year’s end, and its mandate remained unclear. On April 11, the government appointed a new minister of national reconciliation and a new minister for humanitarian action, solidarity, and the reconstruction of the north. The International Criminal Court opened investigations in the country in January 2013.
On May 23, the government and armed groups signed a cease-fire agreement to end hostilities that had resumed on May 18-21 in Kidal.
During the year the government arrested more than 30 rebel fighters linked to the MNLA, HCUA, and MAA, and extremist groups linked to MUJAO or Ansar al-Dine. The government also released some terrorist elements accused of serious crimes without due process during the prisoner releases aimed at supporting the peace process. For example, in August the government released MUJAO member Yoro Ould Daha due to a purported lack of evidence. The government lacked sufficient resources to pursue and investigate cases in the north. Security conditions also inhibited judicial investigations in the northern regions.
On July 24, the government signed a roadmap agreeing to enter into peace negotiations with rebel forces and nongovernmental progovernment forces to end the northern conflict. On September 1, the government, rebel groups, and progovernment forces entered into peace negotiations in Algeria. Terrorist organizations, including AQIM, MUJAO, Ansar al-Dine, and Al Murabitoun, were not permitted to participate in peace talks and continued to be targeted through counterterrorism operations.
Killings: The military, rebel groups, nongovernmental progovernment forces, and terrorist organizations killed persons in the north.
Violent confrontations ensued between the military and rebel forces in northern regions. Between May 17 and 21, hostilities between military and rebel forces, following the prime minister’s visit to Kidal, resulted in the killing of approximately 30 rebel force members and between 30 and 106 military and police personnel. On May 17-18, MNLA, HCUA, and MAA elements killed eight civilians, including six civil servants at the governorate of Kidal.
Violent confrontations between rebel forces, nongovernmental progovernment forces, and terrorist groups also occurred in northern regions. On July 11-26, the MNLA, MAA, and HCUA had violent confrontations between Anefis (Kidal region) and Tabankort (Gao region) with progovernment CMFPR and a branch of the MAA, resulting in the killing of at least four civilians.
Intercommunal violence related to disputes over herding, transhumance (seasonal migration), and cattle grazing occurred between Tuaregs and Peuls (Fulani) in the Gao region. For example, on February 6, reprisal violence between Tuaregs and Peuls in Tamkoutat, Gao region, resulted in more than 30 deaths. The minister of interior and security visited the area to encourage reconciliation, and investigations continued.
Abductions: On April 23, MUJAO elements publicly claimed they killed a French citizen abducted in 2012, and on the same date, French authorities confirmed the individual’s death.
On May 17-18, MNLA, HCUA, and MAA elements took 30 civilian hostages. The rebel forces released the hostages on May 20. On May 21, rebel forces took an additional 48 soldiers and police officers hostage and released them to the government in exchange for the release of detained rebels on July 15.
On August 30, two of the three Algerian diplomats abducted in 2012 by MUJAO were released in Gao. The Algerian foreign ministry said the third abducted Algerian diplomat died of a chronic illness while in captivity.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: Human rights organizations reported numerous allegations of physical abuse by military, rebel, and terrorist forces. Intelligence services detained Mohamed Ouattara, a paratrooper accused of plotting to destabilize institutions and undermine state security, from June 5 to September before formally charging him. Authorities allegedly tortured him during detention. Investigations continued, and the case had not gone to trial by year’s end.
On June 11, terrorists launched a suicide car bomb attack on a MINUSMA camp in Aguelhok in the Kidal region. Four Chadian peacekeepers were killed in the attack. On August 16, an improvised explosive device killed two Burkinabe soldiers in Ber in the Timbuktu region.
Child Soldiers: Most children recruited were boys, but reports indicated that girls might also have been recruited and later forced to serve as sex slaves.
Following the French intervention and cessation of hostilities, the government passed legislation criminalizing the use of child soldiers and opened centers to rehabilitate child soldiers and return them to their families. The government disbanded the unsanctioned progovernment militia groups Gando Izo and Gando Koy, which trained children to participate in armed hostilities, after the government regained control of the areas around Mopti and Sevare. The government placed the children trained as soldiers into rehabilitation centers.
In April human right organizations including the Malian Association of Human Rights returned 11 child soldiers to their families in the village of Khadji, in the Gao region. Most children recruited were boys, but reports indicated that girls might also have been recruited and forced to serve as sex slaves.
On September 4, in Ber (Timbuktu region), with the support of MINUSMA, the MAA and MNLA military leadership signed an agreement prohibiting the recruitment of children and allowed MINUSMA to screen their troops on September 16 and 17.
In July 2013 the government and the United Nations signed a protocol agreement to protect children associated with armed conflict. The protocol establishes a procedure to transfer these children to a UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) interim care center. In accordance with the protocol, the MNLA released 19 children. Following the protocol signing, 25 child soldiers were placed in the UNICEF care center.
See the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report at 2009-2017.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: In May the national assembly established a commission of inquiry to investigate the violent confrontations in May between the government and armed groups in Kidal.
The Ministry of Defense established at least three commissions of inquiry to investigate forced disappearances perpetrated by the military during 2012. At year’s end investigations continued.
MINUSMA and the government provided children social services and family reunification, where possible.
On July 15, rebel groups exchanged 48 Malian soldier and police officer hostages for 41 prisoners the government captured in the north for crimes related to the conflict.
On August 26, armed men attacked a MINUSMA convoy delivering food supplies to a MINUSMA camp. The armed men burned the vehicle, destroying the food supplies, but did not harm the MINUSMA personnel.