In a press release Tuesday morning, UN experts called for an investigation into potential crimes against humanity committed in Mali by both government forces and the Russian paramilitary organization called the “Wagner Group.”
The release stated that human rights experts at the UN have received increasingly alarming accounts of executions, mass graves, torture, sexual violence, pillaging and arbitrary detentions in the Mopti region of Mali. According to the press release, most of the victims of these atrocities allegedly belong to the Peuhl minority group.
The group of human rights experts also claimed that members of the Wagner Group were seen committing these atrocities alongside Malian government forces. The press release called on the Malian government to be vigilant in light of these reports:
Mali must exert the utmost vigilance in prohibiting the direct participation in hostilities of all private individuals operating on its territory. The use of mercenaries, mercenary-like actors and private security and military companies only exacerbates the cycle of violence and impunity prevailing in the country.
The Wagner Group recently came to international attention following the defection of one of its commanders to Norway. The commander claimed he would provide intelligence regarding the group’s operations in exchange for asylum.
The report ended with an assurance that UN human rights experts have conveyed their concerns to the Malian government.