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January 08, 2014

Mali Background

Since 2010 and until March 2020, ABA ROLI’s technical assistance work in Mali addressed descent-based slavery in the northern part of the country. Despite the significant security challenges associated with the current insurgency throughout Mali, ABA ROLI and partner the Malian National Commission for Human Rights have improved local actors’ capacity to address the problem of slavery. Their collaborative efforts resulted in the adoption of a new law criminalizing the several century-long practice of slavery. Through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and by providing in-court assistance, ABA ROLI’s efforts supported the release of 292 individuals from slavery in the northern regions of Timbuktu and Ménaka, and in the Southeast region of Kayes. Of those freed, 52 were assisted in obtaining citizenship, which allowed them to exercise their most basic civil rights, like the right to vote.

ABA ROLI and the Malian National Institute for the Judicial Training also trained prosecutors, judges, and other legal actors in Bamako, Kayes, Timbuktu, Gao, Yélimané, Diéma, and Nioro du Sahel, on slavery and victim sensitive approaches. Pending the adoption of the law criminalizing slavery practices, with the support of ABA ROLI, the Malian National Institute for the Judicial Training published a training manual on “Best Practices to Avoid the Secondary Victimization of the Victims of Slavery-related Practices by the Actors of Justice.” The publication of this manual aimed to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of slavery cases in Mali and to ensure the protection of victims and witnesses. 

From 2013 to 2017, ABA ROLI also worked with the Malian government and civil society organizations to develop transitional justice strategies to address serious human rights violations committed following the 2012 coup d’état and subsequent conflict. Various programs implemented by ABA ROLI sought to address the fundamental problems of weak institutions, corruption, and inequality and to bring stability and justice back to Northern Mali. 

A few major activities undertaken include: 

  1. An ABA ROLI-hosted stakeholder conference generated 26 recommendations to the government, the Malian Truth, Justice Reconciliation Commission, civil society, and donors on the needs of the victims of the crisis, including marginalized groups.

  2. ABA ROLI and its local partners developed a process for identifying and submitting cases of human rights abuses committed during the 2012 coup d’état and following conflict, which resulted in an increase in investigations of human rights violations. 

  3. We held a workshop for justice sector actors where participants produced recommendations for more effective and efficient litigation of human rights abuse cases, such as putting in place mechanisms aimed at protecting justice sector actors, applying international legal instruments, and passing a law protecting witnesses and victims.

  4. Our continued dialogue with key actors from the Malian government and focus on transitional justice and reconciliation in the Malian context, contributed to the success of our work in the country.