War crimes seen in Mali conflict


An Islamist armed group linked to al-Qaeda killed at least 32 civilians, including three children, and set fire to over 350 homes in central Mali in January, forcing about 2,000 villagers to flee, Human Rights Watch reported May 8. Earlier in January, a Bambara ethnic militia formed to oppose the jihadists killed at least 13 civilians, including two children, abducted 24 other civilians, and looted property and livestock in central Mali. These attacks violate international law and are apparent war crimes.

HRW documented two attacks by the Group for the Support of Islam & Muslims (Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimeen, or JNIM) on the Dogon villages of Ogota and Ouémbé, Mopti region, on Jan. 27, and two attacks by the Dozo militia on the Fulani villages of Kalala and Boura, Segou region, in early January. These attacks occurred amid a cycle of reprisal killings and communal violence in central Mali, pitting the Dogon and Bambara peoples against the Fulani. HRW called upon Mali’s transitional military authorities to urgently investigate the abuses, fairly prosecute those responsible, and provide better protection for all civilians at risk.

Mali’s junta, which took power in a May 2021 coup (following an initial coup in August 2020), has been consolidating its authoritarian rule as atrocities and massacres continue to mount.

Map: PCL