Q. – There are more and more accounts, rumours, about acts of brutality committed by the Malian army and even civilians. I wanted to know if you have any confirmation. Don’t we risk being accused of complicity?
THE SPOKESMAN – We have no confirmation of the information given by different NGOs and through the press. That in itself isn’t surprising: there’s the denunciation period – and that’s the NGOs’ role – and the inquiry period, which by definition is longer. Let me remind you that we’re in very close contact with the NGOs. We’ve brought them together here in Paris and our embassy also sees them regularly in Bamako.
We can’t be accused of underestimating the issue, let alone of complicity. We’re well aware of the risk, if only as an indirect consequence of the acts of brutality committed by the terrorist groups for months and months. That’s not to say we understand it, justify it or even cover it up. Of course not.
As we’re well aware of the risks, and have been for a long time, we were very vigilant very early on, at all levels:
at the United Nations first of all. When you re-read Security Council Resolution 2085, adopted in December, it includes provisions to try and remedy this or stop it. To my knowledge, this is a first in the history of Security Council resolutions. Not only were these provisions introduced at France’s request, but we asked for the deployment of United Nations observers to be speeded up and extended.
we also support the referral of the matter to the International Criminal Court, whose mandate covers January 2012 onwards, for the most serious crimes, classified as war crimes or crimes against humanity;
we’ve also intervened within the European Union to ensure that the EUTM [European Union Training Mission to Mali] includes an element of training for the Malian armed forces on human rights, the law of war, the law of armed conflict, the protection of civilians etc. In the advance detachment sent to Mali, under the orders of General Lecointre, there are already trainers on these subjects;
finally, we’ve repeatedly and very clearly called on the Malian authorities themselves to be vigilant. Our forces have been instructed – so it’s the first responsibility – to make the Malian authorities aware of any evidence they might obtain in this area.
There will be no impunity. The international support for the Malian authorities and the difficult but necessary process of national reconciliation are at stake. (…)