Posted by Mariana on 31 Jan 2013 | Comments
THE International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor has warned the Malian government over reports its army may have committed abuses in the conflict-ridden west African country.
“My office is aware of reports that Malian forces may have committed abuses in recent days, in central Mali,” Fatou Bensouda said on Monday in a statement from the ICC’s headquarters in The Hague.
“I urge the Malian authorities to put an immediate stop to the alleged abuses and on the basis of the principle of complementarity, to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the alleged crimes,” she said.
The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) last week alleged that Malian soldiers have carried out multiple summary executions since the start earlier this month of a French-backed offensive against Islamist extremists in Mali.
The rights group said it had credible reports that Malian soldiers had carried out a string of executions at a military camp in the centre of the country and that around 20 bodies had been dumped in wells or otherwise disposed of.
Bensouda on January 16 opened a war crimes probe in the war-torn west African nation, once one of the region’s few democratic success stories.
French and Malian troops have been fighting Islamist rebels since January 11 when it launched an offensive against the insurgents who have been occupying half of the country since April last year.
French troops on Monday entered the historic city of Timbuktu, occupied for 10 months by Islamists who imposed a harsh form of sharia.
So far 144,500 refugees have fled the unrest in Mali to neighbouring Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria, UN humanitarian agencies have said, while another 230,000 are internally displaced.
Bensouda last year ordered a preliminary probe into reports of terrifying atrocities committed in Mali to see if the criteria for a fuller investigation were met.
At the time, Bensouda said the destruction of UNESCO-listed Muslim shrines in Timbuktu may also constitute war crimes. The Islamists who seized the ancient city considered the saints’ tombs idolatrous.
Mali ratified the ICC’s founding document, the Rome Statute, in 2000.
Source: The Herald Sun