UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] condemned [press release] human rights violations in Mali on Monday and called for international action to address the problems. Pillay stated that two militant Islamic groups, Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Ansar Dine, are recruiting child soldiers, committing cruel punishments such as amputations and stoning an unmarried couple to death, violating basic human rights, committing sexual violence against women, and executing individuals. Additionally, MUJAO has also allegedly banned public health campaigns and shut down schools. The two groups have been under investigation [JURIST report] by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] since August. Pillay has called for immediate international intervention and stated that the human rights situation will only continue to degrade if aid is not provided.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in July that her office was 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 Amnesty International reported that Mali was facing its worst human rights crisis [JURIST report] since it gained independence in 1960. Human Rights Watch released a similar report in April claiming that all sides to the conflict are committing war crimes [JURIST report]. 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, Navi Pillay and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees [JURIST reports]. The turmoil began when Tuareg rebels attacked Malian soldiers [Al Jazeera report].