This year is set to be the deadliest recorded in Mali, with an unprecedented rise in attacks on civilians in the Sahel state’s central region, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said on Thursday.
A “reign of impunity” is fuelling human rights violations, the NGO said in a report.
Earlier this year the Malian army launched an offensive in the centre of the country, which contributed to “an increase in violence at local level and provoked an unprecedented level of human rights violations against the civilian population,” the report said.
It said that a torture camp had been set up in Pergue, Segou region, something which the authorities deny, and that there had been a surge in sexual violence, including dozens of cases of rape during an operation in Moura in March.
It was almost impossible to say how many sexual abuse victims there were, the NGO added, but its teams had collected dozens of testimonies accusing jihadists, militiamen and members of the Malian army and its partners of rape in the central region.
“Many judicial cases have been opened but they leave human rights violations on the sidelines,” said Drissa Traore, the group’s secretary general.
Mali’s ruling junta has turned away from its traditional ally France and towards Russia in its fight against a decade-long jihadist insurgency .
It denies links to Russian Wagner group mercenaries accused of carrying out abuses, acknowledging only the support of Russian military “instructors.”