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  Politics
Human rights group in France cites abuses by Malian army
23/01/2013   |   09:45 PM | World News
تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط
PARIS, Jan 23 (KUNA) -- The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said on Wednesday that it is "very alarmed" by emerging evidence of human rights violations by the Malian army that is seeking to rout Islamist-led groups from the north of the country.
The Malian army is supported by a large deployment of French troops and France has said it is "very attentive" to respect for human rights during the campaign against the Islamic extremist groups.
Nonetheless, the FIDH said that there were "an increasing number of summary executions and other human rights violations committed by Malian soldiers in the context of the counter-attack led by the French and Malian (armies) against the Jihadists." A statement issued here called for the immediate formation of an independent commission to "assess the scope of these abuses and sanction the perpetrators." France intervened militarily in Mali on January 10 and has pushed the rebel groups north, with the use of airpower and ground troops.
The Malian army has been actively involved in the fighting, supported by crack French troops and air strikes.
The FIDH said it had learned of a number of summary executions carried out by the Malian armed as early as the first day of the French intervention and moves against the rebels.
The statement here said that executions were carried out in the town of Sevare, where at least 11 people were killed in a military camp.
The human rights group also said it had "reliable information" that another 20 people were executed in the same area and were hastily disposed of in local wells.
Journalists in the area corroborated these reports upon examining a well in the area and reported the stench of dead bodies, although no count was established.
Tuareg tribesmen are also reported to have been killed by the Malian forces - at least two executions have been logged - and there are reports of other abuses in the areas that have been retaken by Malian soldiers.
France came out strongly this week in assuring the public that it was very, very focused on the issue of human fights and was doing everything to prevent any abuses.
"There will be no reprisals," a Foreign Ministry official said, but it is not clear if France has full control over the Malian troops in the field, especially in situations where it is ensuring only a support role.
"These series of grave exactions confirm the concerns that we have been expressing for several weeks. These acts of revenge together with the extreme tensions that exist between the communities constitute an explosive cocktail leading us to fear that the worst could happen, especially with regard to prospects for reconquering the North" said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President, in a statement here.
In addition to calling for an enquiry, and perhaps the implication of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is already mulling an investigation of Jihadist crimes in Mali, the FIDH urged human rights training for Malian forces and better supervision of these troops in the field. (end) jk.mt KUNA 232145 Jan 13NNNN
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