Mali pledged to reject a request from the UN Security Council that the West African nation let peacekeepers have the flexibility to go across the country to look into human rights violations on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the council unanimously voted to prolong MINUSMA, a nine-year-old UN peacekeeping operation, for another 12 months. Russia and China, however, objected to the mission’s rights mandate and chose to abstain.
As a Russian private military contractor, Wagner Group, comes in to assist with a decade-long struggle against extremists, Mali’s military, which assumed power in a coup in 2020, has severed relations with the country’s former colonial power, France.
Between January and March, according to MINUSMA, the Mali military committed 320 rights breaches.
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“Mali is not in a position to guarantee the freedom of movement for MINUSMA’s inquiries without prior agreement of the government,” Mali’s UN Ambassador Issa Konfourou told the council. “Mali does not intend to comply with these provisions despite them being adopted by the Security Council.”
He also said Mali was responsible for investigating any human rights violations.
“MINUSMA must be able to get access to the areas affected in order to carry out its mandate and to publish quarterly reports on human rights. The perpetrators of violations must be brought to justice,” said French UN Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere.
The most notable case investigated by MINUSMA is in the town of Moura, where witnesses and rights groups say the Malian army accompanied by white fighters killed scores of civilians, they suspected of being militants.
Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva described the human rights language in the resolution adopted on Wednesday as “intrusive”, adding that it “will not help to ensure that the Malians enjoy their sovereign right to protect their own citizens and to investigate any incidents.”