Mali

In July 2012, Mali referred the situation in its territory to the ICC in response to the emergence of an Islamist rebellion in the North and the ousting of President Touré shortly before the presidential elections.
Situation phase: 
Investigation – ongoing
Regions: 
Africa
Mali ratified the Rome Statute on 16 August 2000. The country referred the situation in its territory to the ICC in July 2012 after the rebellion in the north beginning 17 January that year and a coup d’état by a military junta in March. In January 2013, the ICC prosecutor opened an investigation into potential Rome Statute crimes committed in Mali since January 2012. Both sides are suspected of the commission of war crimes. Currently, there are two ongoing trials before the ICC. On 22 August 2016, the trial against Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, an alleged member of the Ansar Eddine movement associated with Al Qaeda, formally started. On 27 September 2016, Trial Chamber VIII found Mr. Al Mahdi guilty of the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against historic monuments and buildings dedicated to religion. On 31 March 2018 Mr Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, alleged member of Ansar Eddine and de facto chief of the Islamic police, was surrendered to the International Criminal Court ("ICC") on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including sexual and gender-based crimes, allegedly committed in Timbuktu.
Background
January 2012 brought a new period of armed conflict in Mali over autonomy for the country’s northern region, Azawad. Tuareg rebels in the region attacked Malian government forces, and by April 2012 key cities such as Timbuktu had been overrun. Initially backed by Islamist rebels, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad soon began losing control of the north to former allies Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. On 22 March 2012, a group of Malian soldiers overthrew the outgoing president one week prior to elections and established a military junta. Under pressure from the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, the military junta agreed to allow elections to proceed. The transitional government that took shape subsequently received assistance from the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), authorized by UN Security Council resolution 2085, in retaking rebel holdings in the north. In January 2013, French forces led an international intervention to assist the Malian government to regain control of the north.
ICC situation

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 the 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. Civil society has called on the ICC to ensure that the prosecutions represent the full scope of alleged crimes committed during the conflict and that government forces suspected of grave crimes are equally held to account. 

In the first case arising from the investigation, Islamist rebel Ahmad al Faqi al Mahdi was found guilty of intentionally directing attacks against historical monuments or buildings dedicated to religion in Timbuktu, northern Mali. He was the first accused to make an admission of guilt at trial before the ICC and has expressed remorse for his conduct and apologized to victims. After the judgment, Trial Chamber VIII issued a Reparations Order concluding that Mr. Al Mahdi was liable for 2.7 million euros in expenses for individual and collective reparations for the community of Timbuktu, which was confirmed by the Appeals Chamber in 2018. Al Mahdi serves his sentence in a  prison facility in Scotland, United Kingdom. The voluntary cooperation of the Scottish and United Kingdom Governments was highly appreciated by the Court because it relies on states for the enforcement of the sentences.

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.

 

 

 

  

National prosecutions

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. 
 

Civil society advocacy

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. In 2019, the Malian Coalition congratulated the Malian authorities, for their bold actions and surrendering Mr. Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud to the ICC 

 

Campaign for global justice

Rome statute status: 
Ratified/acceded (ICC member state)
Agreement on Privileges an Immunities of the ICC
Ratified
Crime of agression
Not ratified
16 August 2000
08 July 2004
Article 8
Not ratified