Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on Mali
Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland
March 31, 2023
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.
We thank the Independent Expert for the report. We share the deep concern raised in the report.
We are alarmed by the deteriorating human rights situation accompanying Mali’s worsening security crisis, including the systematic targeting of civilians by extremist armed groups. We are deeply concerned by continued reports of violations committed by national forces and the Wagner Group, including conflict related gender-based violence. It should be recalled that Malian authorities carry the responsibility also for violations committed by foreign military companies on their behalf.
Strengthening access to justice, fighting impunity, and increasing accountability is crucial. The report of the Independent Expert clearly illustrates that much remains to be done.
We note with deep concern the shrinking civic space and growing pressure on freedom of expression, including attacks on human rights defenders, who have been forced to flee the country. The decision by Malian authorities to declare the Director of the Human Rights Division of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali "persona non grata” and the difficulties which the Independent Expert faced during his visit are worrying developments.
Allow me to ask the following question: How can the Malian authorities improve freedom of speech and association, and how can the international community most effectively address the shrinking civic space in Mali?