Both sides suspected of war crimes
In June 2012, Mali asked the ICC prosecutor to investigate alleged grave international crimes occurring in the context of an armed conflict after Islamist rebels took control of parts of northern Mali in January 2012. The ICC’s preliminary examination determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes have been committed in Mali since January 2012, namely: Murder; The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without due process; Mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; Intentionally directing attacks against protected objects; Pillaging; and rape.
On 16 January 2013, the ICC formally opened an investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the territory of Mali since January 2012. Several Coalition members welcomed the opening of the investigation, urging all sides to the conflict to live up to their obligations under international law, particularly with respect to the protection of civilians.
In the first case arising from the investigation, Islamist rebel Ahmad al Faqi al Mahdi is charged with intentionally directing attacks against historical monuments or buildings dedicated to religion in Timbuktu, northern Mali.
Civil society has called on the ICC to ensure that its prosecutions represent the full scope of alleged crimes committed during conflict, and to ensure that government forces suspected of grave crimes are equally held to account.
Mali authorities warned
On 28 January 2013, Prosecutor Bensouda warned the Malian authorities that her office was aware of reports that Malian forces may have committed abuses in central Mali. She urged the authorities to immediately stop any violations and meet their obligations under the Rome Statute to investigate and prosecute those responsible.
At the time of opening the ICC investigation in Mali, there were no national proceedings against individuals who appeared to bear the greatest responsibility for Rome Statute crimes committed in the context of the situation identified by the ICC prosecutor. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that Malian authorities had made little apparent effort to secure accountability following the 2012-13 armed conflict.
Civil society continues to call on the Malian government to investigate and prosecute abuses allegedly carried out by its forces as well as by rebels.
In July 2014, the Malian Coalition for the ICC, with assistance from the Coalition in partnership with the American Bar Association, organized a workshop with the Malian Government in Bamako to discuss how national authorities can improve accountability and cooperation with the ICC. Among the solutions agreed upon: enacting complementary national legislation; advocating ratification and implementation of the crime of aggression amendment to the Rome Statute; and improving coordination among civil society. The Coalition urges civil society and Mali to conduct further workshops promoting cooperation with the ICC’s investigation in the country.