The government continued to investigate incidents by violent extremists, who enforced harsh interpretations of sharia through executions, amputations, and floggings during the 2012 terrorist occupation of the north. By year’s end, the government had arrested over 200 individuals in connection with these incidents but had not tried any high profile cases. Security conditions in the north also inhibited judicial investigations.
Citing insufficient evidence, on August 15, the government provisionally released, pending a trial or closure of the case, Houka Ag Alhousseiny, an alleged member of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Alhousseiny was suspected of ordering floggings and amputations during the occupation. At year’s end, the investigation of his case was still ongoing.
On September 28, three men entered a Catholic church in Banakabougou in Bamako District and threatened individuals attending Mass. Local police arrested one of the alleged perpetrators. On September 30, prosecutors provisionally released the accused and charged him with inciting a crime of a religious nature. The case was scheduled to go to trial in criminal court in November, but was dismissed because the defendant was declared mentally unfit to stand trial.
In May youth reportedly threw stones at Christians in Niamakoro, in Bamako District. Authorities arrested three suspects on charges related to threats against religious freedom and assault. The prosecutor ordered the provisional release of the three pending a trial in criminal court, which was held in September. On November 10, all three were found guilty as charged and were sentenced to three months of probation with the penalty of three months’ imprisonment for violation of probation.
Before making important decisions on potentially controversial national issues, for example the creation of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission, the government consulted with the Malian High Council of Islam, a group representing all significant Islamic groups, and the Committee of Wise Men, a group including the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bamako and Protestant and Muslim leaders.
The minister of religious affairs and worship was responsible for promoting religious tolerance and coordinating national religious activities such as pilgrimages and religious holidays. The minister could prohibit religious publications that he judged to defame another religion but did not exercise this authority during the year.