Prospects for accountability in Mali

08 September 2016 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Amid much fanfare jihadist Ahmed Al Faqi Al Mahdi, in August became the first Malian to stand trial at The Hague-based ICC. Because he pled guilty, there wasn’t much of a procedure, lasting a bare three days. The judges will announce their decision later this month on whether he can indeed be found guilty of destroying a range of cultural monuments in the dusty, far northern city of Timbuktu, during the period when two Islamic groups, Ansareddine and al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) occupied the town and much of the north of the country.

His confession raises the prospect of those most responsible for serious crimes in Mali being brought to justice if he continues to cooperate with ICC prosecutors. However, away from The Hague, experts suggest that further prosecutions of for crimes during Mali's resurgent 2012 conflict in the country itself are far off.

 

 Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi at the opening of his trial (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
Image caption: 
Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi at the opening of his trial (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)

Even though relative peace has returned to that area of the Sahel, and a peace accord was signed with the Islamists a year ago, Mali is still an unstable state. Attacks are reported on a regular basis in the central part of the country. And according to Bamako-based justice expert Oliver Kambala wa Kambala, transitional justice is not high on the political agenda: there’s “a lack of political will,” he says “to move ahead on accountability – both criminal and non-criminal – for the crimes committed during the conflict since January 2012”. 

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