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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                            

Republic of Mali

An October 2019 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that members of Mali’s military had committed serious acts of ill-treatment during counterterrorism operations. The military has been accused of committing summary executions in the past.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Mali

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Mali.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Mali

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 28 July 2021]


There were numerous reports of forced disappearances believed to have been carried out by extremist groups and, in some instances, by the MDSF in the central and northern regions of the country. MINUSMA’s HRPD reported that the MDSF was responsible for 40 disappearances during the first six months of the year while armed groups were responsible for 71 forced disappearances or kidnappings during the same time period. In its June report on human rights abuses by security forces in the Sahel, Amnesty International similarly reported dozens of forced disappearances and possible summary executions at the hands of the MDSF in the course of counterterrorism operations and on other occasions. In December 2019 at least 26 individuals were arrested by a FAMa patrol at the Maliemana market in Segou and never seen again. Bodies were reportedly discovered in a well in the nearby village of N’Doukala seven days later.

Human rights observers continued to report they were unable to verify the whereabouts of dozens of prisoners purportedly detained in connection with the northern conflict. This might have been due to possible unreported deaths in custody, alleged surreptitious releases, and suspected clandestine transfer of prisoners to the government’s intelligence service, the General Directorate of State Security (DGSE). Limited capacity to keep up accurately with case management exacerbated the difficulty in locating individuals within the country’s penal system.


The constitution and statutory law prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, but reports indicated that FAMa soldiers employed these tactics against individuals with suspected links to extremist groups, including JNIM-affiliated member groups (see section 1.g.). MINUSMA’s HRPD reported 56 instances of torture or cruel and inhuman treatment by the MDSF during the first six months of the year. Other organizations reported extensively on torture allegations. In February, according to reports by Amnesty International and others, an elected official from Kogoni-Peulh, Oumar Diallo, was asked by his community to inquire at a gendarme base in Segou as to the whereabouts of previously arrested villagers. He was allegedly arrested and detained at the military camp in Diabaly where he was reportedly treated poorly. He died while subsequently being transferred to Segou by the military. Amnesty International reported that those who buried him stated, “On his corpse you could see traces of ill treatment.” Leaders of the opposition movement the June 5 Movement-Rally of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP), arrested in the wake of the violent July 10-12 protests, claimed they were tortured or mistreated by the gendarmerie at the Gendarmerie Camp I detention facility in Bamako. Investigations into these allegations by international organizations continued at year’s end.


Overcrowding and inadequate sanitary conditions and medical care caused prison conditions to be harsh and life threatening.


Arbitrary Arrest: Human rights organizations reported widespread allegations of arbitrary arrest and detention. In many cases gendarmes detained suspects on DGSE orders and then transferred them for questioning to the DGSE, which generally held suspects for hours or days. Due to the country’s size, long travel times, poor road conditions, and inadequate personnel or resources, however, the transfer process itself sometimes took more than a week, during which security services did not inform detainees of the charges against them. Authorities did not provide released detainees transport back to the location of their arrest, trips that often required several days of travel. These detentions often occurred in the wake of attacks by bandits or terrorists and were targeted against members of the ethnic group suspected of carrying out the attacks.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


An October 2019 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that members of Mali’s military had committed serious acts of ill-treatment during counterterrorism operations. The military has been accused of committing summary executions in the past.

Prisons are characterized by overcrowding, insufficient medical care, and a lack of proper food and sanitation. The government made some effort in 2017 to improve conditions by holding staff trainings and building a new prison with a capacity of about 2,500 prisoners.

Deaths, Torture in Army Detention - Justice Ministry Should Conduct Investigations in the Mopti Region

Human Rights Watch, 9 April 2018

[accessed 10 April 2018]

A 57-year-old herder described being tortured by the soldiers. He said that at around 8 a.m. on March 12, six soldiers arrested him, his son, and a nephew at their home. The soldiers ordered them to walk to a spot outside the village, where he was blindfolded, and his hands and feet bound. He was severely beaten there for about 40 minutes. “One soldier held my head while another held my feet. The third began striking me with a machete on my back again and again until I lost consciousness.”

Another man, 42, detained in the same operation, was beaten with gun butts and a machete, and threatened with death: “They interrogated me while beating me and one threatened to slit my throat if I didn’t talk.”

On March 25, residents of Dogo told Human Rights Watch they had identified the bodies of six men, including a father and son, who had been arrested by security forces three days earlier. One said: “The last time we saw them alive they were in the custody of the soldiers. The next time we saw them they were in a common grave.”

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


ABUSES BY STATE SECURITY FORCES - In 2014, the number of violations committed by the Malian army decreased, but soldiers were implicated in several cases of arbitrary detention, one instance of excessive use of force in responding to a demonstration in Kidal, and several summary executions, largely targeting Tuareg men. The military hierarchy made some effort to investigate and hold to account soldiers implicated in several of these incidents. Members of the security forces were also implicated in acts of extortion, bribe taking, and to a lesser extent rape.

Mass graves in Mali: families want answers

Salil Shetty, Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International AI, 9 December 2013

[accessed 8 January 2019]

I had just got off the plane after a trip to Mali when I heard about the discovery of the mass grave close to the Kati military camp, just north of the capital, Bamako. Only a few days earlier I had met family members who were desperate for news about the fate of their loved ones who disappeared after being abducted from the same camp in May 2012.

The bodies were discovered following the arrest of General Amadou Haya Sanogo who led the military coup in March 2012. He and several of his soldiers were arrested in late November and charged with kidnapping, murder and assassination in connection with the disappearance of 21 soldiers suspected of supporting a counter-coup.

I felt a huge sense of loss for the women who are now grieving their sons, husbands and brothers. At least, I thought, they could now finally come to terms with their loss. But no: even though the story of the mass grave is all over the press, no one from the Malian authorities had contacted the women to formally notify them, as of Monday morning.

Malian soldiers accused of torture, murder

Middle East Online, Gao Mali, 21 Feb 2013

[accessed 22 February 2013]

An AFP journalist saw four "pale skins" in Gao and Timbuktu, 900 kilometres northeast of Bamako, who bore marks of torture, such as cigarette burns, traces of electric shock treatment and the use of acid, broken bones, bruises, bullet wounds and signs of strangulation, as well as sexual abuse.

In one town, which cannot be named at the request of the victims, who also asked for anonymity, one man said that after he was beaten up and burned with cigarettes, soldiers poured acid down his nostrils.

"It's perhaps because I am Tamashek (Tuareg), I don't see any other reason," he said.

"I know that he is not an Islamist," said his doctor, who added that the victim was gravely ill because "the acid will lead to a shrinking of the oesophagus, perhaps cancer."

Elsewhere, a young pale-skinned woman lay on her sickbed with broken bones and several bullets in her body. She said that soldiers had assaulted her. Her doctor said she had also been raped.

In Timbuktu, journalists of the US news agency Associated Press (AP) said that they had found two Arabs buried in the sand, close to the town. The family of one of the victims said he had been arrested by Malian soldiers two weeks earlier.

3 suspects accuse Mali forces of torture

Associated Press AP, 1 February 2013

[accessed 2 February 2013]

The three suspects, who were tied together with a turban and one handcuff, all acknowledged having been members of the al Qaeda-linked group known as Ansar Dine, or Defenders of the Faith.

"To force me to talk they poured 40 liters (85 pints) of water in my mouth and over my nostrils which made it so that I could not breathe anymore. For a moment I thought I was even going to die," said one of the men, who gave his name as Ali Guindo and said he was from a village near the central Malian town of Niono.

"I sleep in the cold and every night they come pour freezing water over me.

All three prisoners described similar treatment. Their account could not be independently verified.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


People suspected of being supporters of armed groups or targeted because they were Tuareg, were victims of torture and other ill-treatment or extrajudicial executions by security forces.

In January, soldiers arrested two Tuaregs accused of providing petrol to armed groups in Ménaka. They were beaten with rifle butts.

In April, soldiers arrested three unarmed men, including two Tuaregs and another man, all unarmed, accused of spying for the MNLA in Sévaré. They were beaten with rifle butts before being extrajudicially executed.

In September, the military arrested 16 Malian and Mauritanian nationals in Diabaly before extrajudicially executing them on suspicion of being supporters of Islamist armed groups. The 16 were members of a movement of Muslim preachers, the Dawa, who had come from Mauritania to attend an annual meeting of their movement in Bamako. An inquiry was set up but by the end of the year the results had not been made public.


Extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture

In May, after an attempted counter-coup, soldiers and police officers loyal to former President Touré were tortured and extrajudicially killed or were victims of enforced disappearance. Two soldiers were stabbed to death at Kati military camp near Bamako by army personnel loyal to the junta. More than 20 others were victims of enforced disappearance after being abducted from their cells. They remained unaccounted for at the end of the year. Some of the soldiers and police officers were subjected to sexual abuse and held in harsh conditions during their interrogation and detention.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 8 January 2019]

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Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 2   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 2 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The judiciary is not independent of the executive, though it has shown increased autonomy in rendering decisions that are unfavorable to the government, which has in turn respected the judgments. Local chiefs decide the majority of disputes in rural areas. Detainees are not always charged within the 48-hour period set by law, and there are lengthy delays in bringing defendants to trial.

Although there are reports of police brutality, courts have convicted some perpetrators. Prison conditions are harsh. The government permits human rights monitors to visit prisons, but at least one group has complained that cumbersome administrative procedures make investigations difficult.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 2 February 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however there were occasional reports that police abused civilians. On April 5, a court sentenced a police officer to one month in jail for physically abusing a civilian during questioning.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatmentin the early years of the 21st Century- Mali",, [accessed <date>]