With the recent report that at least seven men have suffered amputation at the hands of armed groups in North Mali, the United Nations human rights chief today expressed condemnation of the ongoing human rights violations engulfing the region.
Reports say cruel punishments were carried out by the Unity of the Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Ansar Dine.
One man reported had a hand amputated yesterday for theft, the High Commissioner’s office (OHCHR) said in a news release.
Robbery is reportedly a crime punishable by double amputation, according to the strict form of Sharia, or Islamic law, in the northern half of Mali, which fell to al-Qaida-linked rebels five months ago.
About 30 men were reportedly accused of a variety of offences are awaiting punishment, possibly including amputations.
Responding to the appalling report, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay cites that her office has received, the various armed groups currently occupying northern Mali have been committing serious human rights violations and possibly war crimes.
Ms. Pillay says these gross rights violations include cruel punishments, such as amputations, the stoning to death of an unmarried couple, summary executions, recruitment of child soldiers, as well as violations of women’s rights, children’s rights, freedom of expression, the rights to food, health, education, to freedom of religion and belief, and cultural rights.
Reporting to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ms. Pillay outlined a host of human rights abuses and alleged violations of international humanitarian law in northern Mali.
She calls urgent action to bring an end to the political instability that has been fuelling the violence.
“I strongly condemn attacks on the civilian population, sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers and forced displacement, as well as the destruction of Mali’s world heritage sites. Armed groups must abide by human rights and international humanitarian law.” – Ms. Pillay
In February this year, soldier mutineers launched a forcible seizure of power from the democratically-elected Government of Mali.
The Security Council called on the soldier mutineers to ensure the safety and security of all Malian officials and demanded prompt release of those detained.
The mutineers announced the dissolution of the Government and seized control of the country.
In February this year, thousands of refugees fled to neighbouring countries to escape from the conflict in northern Mali.
UN also reported that thousands of refugees have entered Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
Burkina Faso authorities reported that 8,000 people have entered that country so far, many of them women and children.
The outbreak of conflict in northern Mali was caused by clashes between Government forces and Tuareg rebels.
Tuareg rebels launched a new rebellion in the north on 17th of January. Since then, troops have clashed with rebels in several northern towns.
Tuareg nomads are present throughout the Sahel region of Africa. Both Mali and Niger have battled Tuareg uprisings in the last decade.