Malian security forces and rebels committed gross human rights violationsListen /
The United Nations says it has documented various incidences of human rights violations committed by the Malian security forces in their operation to defeat rebel forces which had taken control of the northern parts of the country.
Investigations conducted by the UN Human Rights office revealed that government security forces engaged in extrajudicial killings, ethnically motivated violence, forced disappearances, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, illegal arrest and detention.
UN Deputy Human Rights chief, Ms. Flavia Pansieri told the Human rights Council that forcibly married girls who were later subjected to multiple sexual rapes in the cities of Gao and Timbuktu.
Ms. Pansieri said there were also reports of recruitment and use of children by all the armed groups in the north of Mali.
"They also confirmed cases of summary executions and extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests and torture, forced disappearances and sexual violence committed by elements of armed groups during their occupation of northern Mali. The Mission received allegations from several sources, including victims' relatives, indicating that girls were forcibly married to members of armed groups in Gao and Timbuktu. On many occasions, these forced marriages reportedly resulted in multiple rapes by members of the armed group, and the marriages lasted no more than two or three weeks, after which the girls were sent back to their families. It is difficult to ascertain the extent to of the sexual violence committed in Mali in 2012. Women were reluctant to discuss sexual assaults openly. There have also been reports of recruitment and use of children by all the armed groups in the North of Mali. The report also stresses that instances of retaliatory violence committed by the Malian forces and the local population against Tuareg and Arab communities have decreased since mid-March. Nevertheless, the risks of reprisals against these communities remained significant given their perceived association with the armed groups, and this may present a major obstacle to the return and reintegration of those who have fled."
The UN Human rights office says commitment undertaken by the Malian government in the aftermath of the military operation in the north to fight impunity and prosecute all perpetrators of serious human rights violations, has not yet been sufficiently translated into concrete actions.
The Human Rights Council is expected to appoint an Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali during its current session to support the Government of Mali in dealing with human rights challenges.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.