Mali: The perpetrators of the Moura massacre must be prosecuted and tried by a competent court

Amnesty International welcomes the publication on 12 May of a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) concerning the joint military operation conducted by the Malian army, together with members of private military company the Wagner Group, in the village of Moura (in the Djenné Cercle in Mopti region) from 27 to 31 March 2022.

The report concludes that at least 500 people were unlawfully executed by the Malian armed forces and their foreign allies during the siege of the village of Moura from 27 to 31 March 2022. It also documents the cases of 58 women and girls who suffered sexual violence at the hands of Malian military personnel. The report is based on 157 individual interviews conducted over a period of seven months from 1 April to 30 October 2022 with survivors of the attack, including victims of sexual violence, as well as people tasked by the military with burying the bodies in mass graves.

On 13 May 2022, the Malian authorities condemned the report, stating that “no civilians from Moura lost their lives during the airborne operation”. They also announced that an investigation was to be opened into the OHCHR’s factfinding mission for espionage, breach of national security and foreign conspiracy. 

Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said: “According to the OHCHR report, the crimes committed in Moura could constitute crimes under international law. While the OHCHR notes that around thirty combatants from the armed group Katiba Macina were present in Moura on 27 March 2022, the day of the fair, their presence can in no way justify the extrajudicial executions, rapes and looting committed by the armed forces against the inhabitants and stallholders trapped by their siege.”

The OHCHR report is a crucial step in establishing the truth about the atrocities committed in Moura and should contribute to the victims right to justice. On 6 April 2022, Amnesty International condemned the crimes committed by the soldiers and their allies and highlighted the need to conduct in-depth and independent judicial investigations into the incidents in Moura.

On the same day, the military courts announced the opening of an investigation into the incidents. Since then, no public information has been provided on the progress of the process. In its report “Crimes without convictions” published on 13 April 2022, Amnesty International indicated that almost all the ongoing proceedings concerning the abuses committed by soldiers during the conflict had stalled, making no progress and never reaching trial. Amnesty International also condemned the fact that the military courts have jurisdiction to try crimes against civilians, in violation of international and regional human rights protection standards.

Given the severity of the crimes committed, Amnesty International urges the authorities to undertake independent and impartial judicial proceedings in the ordinary law courts concerning the crimes committed in Moura, and draws the attention of the International Criminal Court, which has an ongoing investigation into the Mali situation, to the events in Moura, which saw the biggest civilian death toll since the conflict began in 2012.

We condemn the impunity that reigns in Mali and the violence the warring parties continue to inflict on civilian populations in the centre of the country, in particular. The parties to the conflict in Mali – the Malian army and its allies as well as armed groups – have an obligation to comply with international humanitarian law. Crimes targeting civilians, such as extrajudicial executions, rapes and other acts of sexual violence, are absolutely prohibited.

Samira Daoud, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Amnesty International