June 27, 2016

ABA ROLI Supports First Meeting Between Mali Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and Victims’ Associations

“When I arrived in Kidal on 17 May 2014, I was shot seven times in my legs and hips. Four of the bullets could be removed but I am still living with three bullets in my body. I had travelled there as part of a team to document human rights abuses perpetrated by armed groups. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Modisamba Touré relayed his experience in the northern Malian town of Kidal at a meeting between the Malian TJRC and several victims’ associations across the country’s ten provinces. Today, Modi, as he is affectionately called by his peers, needs crutches to walk, and his story was just one of several experiences of violence and suffering narrated by 45 victims and representatives of victims’ associations during the meeting.

The TJRC was established with the mandate to contribute to the return of a lasting peace through truth-seeking, reconciliation and the consolidation of national unity and democratic values. Through the Reconciliation and Justice in Northern Mali project, ABA ROLI supported the meeting between the TJRC and victims’ associations in Bamako from June 3-4, 2016. It was the first time since its establishment in 2014 that the TJRC met victims of the 2012 Malian crisis.

The meeting provided a unique opportunity for victims to have their voices heard in the ongoing national reconciliation discussions and to convey their expectations to the TJRC regarding reparations, truth-seeking, justice and guarantees of non-reoccurrence. It was also an opportunity for the TJRC to explain its mission, intervention strategy and progress to victims of the crisis.

Mali is at a crossroads, having experienced a severe political crisis sparked by a January 2012 armed insurgency in the north and ensuing coup d’état in March 2012. The crisis inflicted considerable suffering on the civilian population, including the displacement of more than 400,000 people, particularly in the north. Since the beginning of the crisis, ABA ROLI has worked alongside government and civil society partners to build their capacity to implement a nationally vetted, community-driven, victim-centered and effective transitional justice process.

The TJRC and victims’ associations resolved at the end of the meeting to establish a permanent framework for cooperation on issues such as capacity building for victims’ associations to promote victims’ rights, increasing victims’ understanding of their rights, information exchange, sensitization and investigation of human rights violations.

ABA ROLI’s program in Mali is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

To learn more about our work in Mali, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.