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Child Prisoners in Mali: United Nations frown at Rebels action despite Ceasefire Agreement

by Family Center
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Following clashes with a rival armed group in northern Mali, former rebels are now holding child prisoners in their stronghold city of Kidal, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Against the 2015 ceasefire agreement, the fight between the ex-rebels of the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA) and the pro-government Platform group have worsened in recent weeks in northern Mali.

In late July CMA said it was holding dozens of prisoners in Kidal, a city it controls, after dismantling a base of the Groupe Autodéfense Touareg Imghad et Alliés (GATIA) militia and killing several of its fighters. The Director of the human rights division of the UN mission to Mali, Guillaume Ngefa on Thursday said that eight of those being held were children and possibly child soldiers.

Ngefa detailed what he said were human rights abuses perpetrated by both sides.

“We were able to establish that the armed groups had minors in their ranks,” Ngefa said in a statement.

“What is extremely concerning is that among the 33 people currently held prisoner by the CMA in Kidal, eight are children.”

United Nations investigators had carried out seven different missions to the north and discovered evidence of mass graves and rampant rights abuses, he added. These included “summary executions, kidnappings and torture, destruction of property and theft,” he said, elaborating on Saturday’s statement of the discovery of the mass graves.

Ngefa also stated the possibility of compensating the victims of the abuses.

He added that UN is ready to support families who will lodge legal cases against the perpetrators, while an investigation is ongoing, 33 outstanding complaints have been made.

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On July 31 the US State Department said it was “greatly disturbed at reports of reprisal killings of civilians and the discovery of unmarked grave sites…” If the allegations proved founded, it added, “the perpetrators must be brought to justice”.

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