Head of state
Amadou Toumani Touré
Head of government
Modibo Sidibé
Death penalty
abolitionist in practice
13.3 million
Life expectancy
49.2 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f)
193/188 per 1,000
Adult literacy
26.2 per cent

Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) held a number of hostages in northern Mali. The group killed some hostages and released others. There was no progress in passing laws to give women equal rights or to abolish the death penalty. Thirteen people were sentenced to death, but no executions were reported.


AQIM intensified its activities in some sub-Saharan countries including Mali throughout the year. In September, when two Malian civilians were killed by the Mauritanian air force shelling an AQIM base, Mauritania apologized to Mali. In October, President Amadou Toumani Touré asked Saharan countries to strengthen co-operation in the fight against AQIM.

The Bill for Persons and Family Code, which grants equal rights to women and sparked controversy in 2009, was again debated by sub-committees at the National Assembly. A vote on the Bill did not take place before the end of the year.

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Abuses by armed groups

Seven hostages captured by AQIM in Mauritania and Niger and held in Mali were released during 2010.

  • AQIM threatened to kill Pierre Camatte, a French hostage abducted in November 2009, if four al-Qa’ida prisoners held in Mali were not released. In February, around the same time as Pierre Camatte was released by AQIM, the four prisoners were set free; the Malian authorities declared that they had served their prison sentences.
  • Michel Germaneau, a French humanitarian aid worker captured in northern Niger in April and taken to northern Mali, was killed by AQIM in July. A few days earlier, the Mauritanian army had launched a failed attempt with French support to release him.
  • In August, two Malians were abducted by AQIM in Kidal. One, a member of the security forces, was released a few days later. Sidi Mohamed Ag Chérif, known as Merzuk, a guide working for the customs office, was killed two days after his abduction.
  • In September, seven people including nationals from France, Togo and Madagascar working for AREVA and Satom, two French companies, were abducted in Arlit, northern Niger and held by AQIM in northern Mali. AQIM later demanded a large ransom and the repeal of a French law (banning the Islamic veil) to secure their release.
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Death penalty

There was no progress towards the abolition of the death penalty. A draft bill to abolish the death penalty proposed by the government in 2007 was again postponed by the National Assembly. Thirteen people were sentenced to death during the year, although no executions were reported.

  • In May, two brothers, Siaka and Kassoum Diallo, were sentenced to death for murder by the Bamako Assize Court.
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Human rights by region

World regions Midde East and North Africa Asia Pacific Europe and Central Asia Africa Americas


A number of countries in Africa celebrated the 50th anniversary of their independence during the year while others prep ...


In the Americas many human rights have been recognized in law, if not always in practice, over the past 50 years. Whi ...

Asia Pacific

In a region with almost two thirds of the world’s population, stretching a third of the way around the planet, ...

Europe & Central Asia

The right to truth and justice, and the determination of victims and their relatives to achieve this how ...

Middle East and North Africa

2010 dawned with Yemen an unusual focus of international attention following an alleged terrorist ...

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