UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Thursday called for urgent national and international action [press release] to bring an end to the political instability and continuing human rights violations in Mali. According to Pillay, human rights violations have been reported in the capital of Bamako since the military takeover on March 22. The violations include illegal arrests, poor detention conditions and attempts to restrict the right to freedom of expression. Pillay commended the efforts to restore constitutional order, specifically Thursday's planned delegation of power from the military coup leaders to the National Assembly Speaker, who is acting as interim president. Pillay urged coup leaders to step aside and respect international human rights law, as promised. In a statement, she said:
The urgency of the situation in Mali is exacerbating an already extremely serious humanitarian crisis affecting the whole of the Sahel region, and the country may soon be plunged into a devastating food crisis with a risk of other shortages, including medical supplies, if the insurrections and insecurity persist.Pillay requested national, international and regional organizations to combine their efforts in helping Mali bring an end to the human rights crisis.
Mali has experienced military turmoil since Taureg rebels began attacking Malian soldiers [Al Jazeera report] in January. Last month Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, who led Malian soldiers in last month's military coup [JURIST report], announced he would reinstate the country's 1992 Constitution [text, PDF, in French] and create a transitional government to hold elections. Also in March the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] expressed concern over political and security instability in Mali [JURIST report], and how ongoing fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels will affect Malians forced to flee their homes in search of safety. Last month the acting head of the EU delegation in Mali, Bertrand Soret, met with Sanogo and urged a quick return to constitutional order [JURIST report]. Soret indicated that the EU expected the Malian military to find a solution to the current crisis, and that he has asked to have access to government ministers that have been detained by the military. The UNHCR reported last month that more than 80,000 people had fled Mali [press release] to escape the fighting.