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Mali
Investigation opens

On 16 January 2013, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor formally opened an investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the territory of Mali since January 2012. The investigation—the Court’s eighth—focuses on northern Mali; however no cases have yet been brought against specific individuals. Mali is a state party to the ICC Rome Statute.

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Civil society reacts

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 organizations have also called on the Malian government to investigate and prosecute abuses allegedly carried out by its forces.

Allegations of war crimes

The prosecutor has 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

  • Rape

According to the OTP, the information available in early 2013 did not provide a reasonable basis to conclude that crimes against humanity have been committed.

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, reiterating that the OTP has jurisdiction to investigate all Rome Statute crimes committed in the territory of Mali since January 2012.

Referral and preliminary examination

The situation was referred to the Court by the Malian government on 13 July 2012, which enabled the Court to exercise its jurisdiction. From July 2012, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) had been conducting a preliminary examination to determine whether a formal investigation was warranted. The situation is assigned to Pre-Trial Chamber II.

Background to the conflict

In January 2012, different organized armed groups seeking independence or autonomy in northern Mali began a violent campaign against Malian government forces. By April 2012, non-state armed groups seized control of the north of the country. In December 2012, the United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted Resolution 2085, authorizing political support, training and military action to restore control of northern Mali to the government. In January 2013, French forces led an international intervention to assist the Malian government to regain control of the north.