Mali military government has stated that it would reject a request from the UN Security Council that it grant peacekeepers freedom of movement so they may look into human rights violations.
On Wednesday, the council unanimously voted to prolong MINUSMA, a nine-year-old UN peacekeeping operation, for another 12 months.
Russia and China, however, objected to the mission’s rights mandate and chose to abstain.
Mali’s military took power in a 2020 coup and has cut ties with former colonial power France as a Russian private military contractor, Wagner Group, has stepped in to help with a decade-long battle against armed groups.
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MINUSMA says it has documented 320 rights violations by Mali’s military between January and March.
Refugees at the M’bera refugee camp in nearby Mauritania have told Al Jazeera that Malian soldiers have stepped up abuses in recent months, along with white soldiers believed to be Russians.
“Mali is not in a position to guarantee the freedom of movement for MINUSMA’s inquiries without prior agreement of the government,” Mali’s UN ambassador Issa Konfourou told the council. “Mali does not intend to comply with these provisions despite them being adopted by the Security Council.”
He said Mali was responsible for investigating any human rights violations.
“MINUSMA must be able to get access to the areas affected in order to carry out its mandate and to publish quarterly reports on human rights. The perpetrators of violations must be brought to justice,” said French UN ambassador Nicolas de Riviere.
The town of Moura, where witnesses and rights organizations claim the Malian army and white fighters massacred hundreds of people they believed to be rebels, is the most noteworthy example that MINUSMA is looking into.
The human rights wording in the resolution passed on Wednesday was deemed “intrusive” by the deputy UN ambassador for Russia, Anna Evstigneeva, who also said that it “will not help to ensure that the Malians enjoy their sovereign right to protect their own citizens and to investigate any incidents.”