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UN report: Mali turmoil has led to human rights violations

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] released a November 2012 report [text, PDF, in French] on Friday, stating [press brief] the crisis in Mali [CIA backgrounder, JURIST news archive] has led to human rights violations including rape, summary executions, and extra-judicial killings. According to the report, violations also include stoning, amputation, the recruitment of child soldiers, and forced marriage and gang rape of girls as young as 12. The current situation, says spokesperson Rupert Colville, "is linked to long-standing and unresolved issues" taking place within the country. The OHCHR report called on "all parties to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law standards," asking for the "initiation of a reconciliation process to address current human rights challenges as well as long-standing unresolved issues," and urging the Malian army and its supporters "to take extreme care not to carry out further reprisals as and when they retake territory in the North."

Violence in Mali has drawn much international attention for potential human rights abuses. International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced earlier this week that her office has officially launched an investigation [JURIST report] into possible war crimes committed in Mali. Last week the interim president declared a state of emergency [JURIST report]. The prime minister of Mali, Cheick Modibo Diarra, was forced to resign [JURIST report] in December on state television after junta soldiers arrested him for attempting to leave the country in light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis threatening the nation. In September, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported that three armed Islamist groups in northern Mali are abusing the local population and recruiting child soldiers [JURIST report]. Earlier that month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] condemned [JURIST report] human rights violations in Mali and called for international action to address the problems. In August officials from the ICC were in Mali investigating [JURIST report] whether the same two Islamic groups had committed war crimes in Mali.

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