At least 10 people were killed when conflict intensified in the north of the country. One person died when the security forces used excessive force against demonstrators protesting over water privatization plans. Two Mauritanian detainees said they were tortured in detention. Lawmakers postponed a bill to abolish the death penalty.
Peaceful marches were organized against rising prices for basic commodities and against plans to privatize the supply of water in the north-west of the country.
At least 250 migrants arrested in Spain were sent back to Bamako, the capital, during 2008. More than 100 migrants arrested and held for months in Libya were also sent back to Mali. Some of them complained that they had been beaten by Spanish and Libyan security forces.
The conflict in the north-western region of Kidal intensified, particularly in March and April.
"...the security forces used excessive force against people protesting over plans to privatize water..."
Excessive use of force
In November, the security forces used excessive force against people protesting over plans to privatize water in Léré, in the north-west of the country. At least six people were wounded, one of whom, Kassim Sidibé, later died.
Armed conflict – Kidal region
Continuing conflict between a Tuareg armed group led by Ibrahim Ag Bahanga and the army resulted in at least five civilian deaths, some in landmine explosions, and casualties among Tuareg civilians crossing into Burkina Faso.
Two Austrian tourists taken hostage in Tunisia by a group close to al-Qa’ida in the Maghreb were transferred to Mali in March and released in October.
In September, an armed self-defence group, “Ganda Izo”, led by a former soldier, was allegedly responsible for killing four Tuaregs. The group’s leader and at least 30 of its members were later arrested.
Torture and other ill-treatment
During a mission to Mauritania, Amnesty International delegates met two Mauritanian citizens, who were arrested in Mali in late November 2007 and accused of being members of al-Qa’ida in the Maghreb. They were transferred to Mauritania in February 2008 where they remained in detention. The two men told Amnesty International that they had been tortured in a secret detention centre in Bamako. Methods used included kicking, beating, electric shocks, suspension by the arms and sleep deprivation.
The draft bill to abolish the death penalty was not examined at the parliamentary session which ended in July. The members of parliament postponed the reading and adoption of the bill to a later session. In May, when Mali was examined under the Universal Periodic Review at the UN, a Malian representative stated that his country was committed to abolition and that the abolition bill would be adopted before 2012.
At least 15 people were sentenced to death.
- In Segou, in July, an assize court sentenced Broulaye Bagayogo to death for attempted murder and sentenced Najim Lakhal Aly to death for conspiracy, kidnapping, robbery and illegal possession of weapons.
No executions were carried out.