Officials from the International Criminal Court (ICC) were in Mali on Friday investigating whether two Islamic groups, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad and Ansar Dine, have committed war crimes in Mali. According to Malian officials the Islamic groups have been committing human rights violations [AFP report], including executing Malian soldiers, committing rapes, massacring civilians and recruiting child soldiers. The ICC officials are there merely to collect information and report back to ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The probe was in response to a request for investigation by the Malian government. Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy websites] also allege that soldiers for the Malian government, which was installed after a coup [JURIST report] in March by Captain Amadou Sanogo, have also been committing war crimes, including extra-judicial killings and torturing detainees [JURIST reports].
Bensouda said last month that her office is opening a preliminary examination [JURIST report] of the recent violence in Mali, after the ICC received a letter from Malian government officials requesting an ICC investigation. Malian Justice Minister Malick Coulibaly said earlier that month that he would ask the ICC to open an investigation [JURIST report]. In May AI reported that Mali is facing its worst human rights crisis [JURIST report] since it gained independence in 1960. HRW 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. All of this has come after Malian soldiers took control of the government [JURIST report] and suspended the constitution in March. Many in the international community have expressed concern over the situation, including the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees [JURIST reports]. The turmoil began when Tuareg rebels attacked Malian soldiers [Al Jazeera report].