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The rule of law in Mali is at a critical juncture. In the past six
months, the nation's government has been toppled by the military, the acting
president was nearly beaten to death, there have been Taureg secessionist
movements, and radical Islamists are imposing Sharia law upon territory they
control in northern Mali.
In that region, an estimated 500,000 are now refugees. Drug
trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, and prostitution under the guise of forced
marriages are now a way of life where the Islamists retain power. Families are
being paid relatively large sums of money for their children to be used as
Dissent is not an option. With Sharia law comes draconian
punishment for disobedience, including capital punishment, limb amputations,
Complicating matters further is the fact that rival Islamist groups
control different parts of northern Mali. Some are native Malians. Others are
foreign radical Muslims. It remains to be seen whether common religious beliefs
will trump differences in nationality. Given that this former French colony has
been independent for merely half a century, and is artificially constructed
from land steeped in the traditions of diverse tribal kingdoms and federations,
the concept of a unitary national identity seems to be relatively weak in
comparison to Islamist commonalities.
Without international assistance, the republic's interim
government, led by Acting President Dioncounda Traoré and Prime Minister Cheick
Modibo Diarra, is unlikely to retake the north, restore the rule of law, or
bring the Islamists to justice for their war crimes.
With the support of the U.N. Security Council, now is the time for
the following actions to take place:
1. A regional peacekeeping military force must retake northern
Mali and restore civil liberties there on behalf of the interim Malian government.
2. Perpetrators of war crimes and other human rights abuses must
be brought to justice either domestically or before the International Criminal
3. Human rights victims and Malian refugees should receive
international support through NGOs.
4. A U.N. taskforce of election observers should assist the Malian
government in holding free and fair elections to replace the interim
For the rule of law must be restored in order for fundamental
human rights to be restored in Mali.
Accused Of Using Intimidation, Drug Money To Control Northern Mali,
RTT News (Oct. 11, 2012)
rebels tied to drug trade, UPI (Oct. 11, 2012)
in Mali buys child soldiers, Afrik-News (Oct. 11., 2012)
Islamists 'buying child soldiers, imposing Sharia',
BBC News (Oct. 10, 2012)
in Mali paying for child soldiers, Washington Times (Oct. 10, 2012)
Islamists Use Fear, Drug Money to Maintain Control of Northern Mali - UN Rights
Official, All Africa (Oct. 10, 2012)