Mali prisoner release "sure to backfire"

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MINUSMA peacekeepers on patrol in Mali, where a mass prisoner release could upset peace efforts, the UN human rights office warns. Photo: MINUSMA/Marco Dormino

In Mali, the mass release of prisoners accused of serious human rights violations is sure to backfire on the war-torn country, the UN said Tuesday.

According to the UN human rights office, OHCHR, 44 prisoners have already been released despite either facing war crimes charges or having links with terrorist organisations.

Another 100 detainees may also be set free "imminently", OHCHR has warned, in possible contravention of international law.

Here's Daniel Johnson's report from Geneva.

Under the prisoner-release arrangement, Malian authorities have already set free 44 detainees charged with grave offences.

These include war crimes, terrorist acts and gross human rights violations.

UN human rights office (OHCHR) spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said that it was "of critical importance" to investigate all gross human rights violations and ensure accountability.

"These releases are being done as part of a confidence-building measure but they are sure to backfire and they are sure not to serve the causes of peace and reconciliation which were so difficult to come to this agreement; and in fact the peace agreement was a very good one, it had provisions against amnesty for gross violations of human rights…this is being violated already."

Shamdasani said there were fears that another 100 detainees may be released "imminently”.

The development comes amid continuing insecurity in Mali.

In recent days, attacks on civilians in a hotel in the centre of the country left 10 soldiers and UN contractors dead, along with three extremists.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’04″





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