News24

UN - human rights violations in Mali

2012-04-12 21:33

Geneva - The seizure by Tuareg-led rebels of much of northern Mali has led to human rights violations, looting and growing tension between ethnic groups, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday.

"Reports from the north of the country suggest that civilians have been killed, robbed, raped and forced to flee," Pillay said in a statement.

"It is difficult at this point to be sure of the scale of the human rights violations taking place, but in addition to preying on individuals, a variety of different rebel groups have been accused of looting private and public property, including hospitals and health care facilities," she added.

Pillay said she was concerned that the longer the instability continued, the more the human rights situation appeared to get worse, with thousands of people fleeing the region to seek refuge abroad.

Some 200 000 people have fled to neighbouring countries and over 100 000 have been internally displaced, UN agencies said earlier this month.

Pillay also warned of growing tensions between different ethnic groups, while adding that Islamist extremists had threatened unveiled women and might have also killed non-Muslims in the north.

She also denounced illegal arrests, poor conditions of detention, and attempts to restrict freedom of expression in Bamako, Mali's capital, in the wake of the military March 22 coup there.

The junta has since agreed to hand back power to civilians and an interim president, Dioncounda Traore, was sworn in Thursday.