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West African leaders urge ICC to investigate Mali war crimes

The leaders of six West African nations urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] to investigate war crimes in Mali [JURIST news archive] at a crisis summit on Saturday. Malian soldiers took control of the government [JURIST report] and suspended the constitution in March, and the fighting has since uprooted nearly 320,000 people. The leaders are asking the ICC "to proceed with necessary investigations to identify those responsible for war crimes and to take the necessary action against them." At the summit, the leaders also called for an end to the fighting [AFP report] before the beginning of the month of Ramadan on July 20. The leaders of Mali were not present at the summit, and representatives of the country who were there walked out.

Many in the international community have expressed concern over the situation in Mali. Early this month, the UN Security Council [official website] passed Resolution 2056 to address the continued hostilities [JURIST report] in the country and demand the violence come to an end. Earlier this week ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] told reporters that attacks by Islamist rebels on religious monuments [JURIST report] in Mali will not be tolerated. In May Amnesty International [advocacy website] released a report saying that Mali is facing its worst human rights crisis [JURIST report] since it gained independence in 1960. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a similar report in April claiming that all sides to the conflict are committing war crimes [JURIST report]. Earlier in April the ICC said they would monitor the situation [JURIST report] in Mali for potential crimes under the ICC's jurisdiction. The turmoil began when Taureg rebels attacked Malian soldiers [Al Jazeera report].

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