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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.