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Amnesty Says Mali Tortured Jailed Children, UN Says Age UNclear

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 5 -- The UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, works closely with Mali's Army. Recently for example after MINUSMA told unarmed protesters to leave the airport in Kidal, Mali's Army shot them, critically wounding two women.

  Inner City Press asked UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous about Kidal -- as is the pattern, no answer, video compilation here, UK coverage here). Then Inner City Press twice asked the UN Spokesperson's Office. So far, nothing but a vague MINUSMA press release which even Reuters -- denier of FrancAfrique -- calls vague.

  But the imprisonment of children is an issue one assumes the UN would remain strong on. Two days ago Inner City Press asked UN Spokesperson Martin Nesirky about Amnesty International's report that Mali has locked up children:

Inner City Press: on Mali, there was a report put out by Amnesty International, naming very specifically children that are incarcerated by the Malian Army and authorities and saying they should be released and describing exactly how they were imprisoned. Given that MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) works with the Malian army and there is a UN presence there, including human rights monitoring, has the UN chimed in on this? Are they seeking the release of these children detainees of the Malian authorities?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Iíll need to check. I donít have anything on that, Matthew.

More than 48 hours later, with other questions on Mali including about the UN's procurement there pending, UN Peacekeeping through Nesirky's office provided this response, on children:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 4:19 PM
Subject: Your question on Mali [children]
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question on Mali and minors in detention, please see the following from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations:

ďMINUSMA and UNICEF are working closely with the Malian authorities on the issue of minors in detention. A small number of individuals are reportedly detained by the Malian gendarmerie. Their age, however, remains to be determined due to lack of birth certificates and other documentation.

The United Nations has a good working relationship with the Malian justice and correction authorities and we are confident that a specific mechanism to address this issue can be put in place jointly by the United Nations and the Malian Government.Ē

  If the UN has such a "good working relationship with the Malian justice and correction authorities," where's the investigation and prosecution of those in the Malian Army who shot unarmed protesters in Kidal? Meanwhile, here's part of what Amnesty said about these child soldiers:

One of the five children is a child soldier who joined the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO). The other four were arrested because of their suspected links to armed groups... One boy (16) was arrested in Kidal by Malian security forces more than two months ago when he came out of a shop and a grenade went off across the road. The security officers accused him of throwing the grenade and beat him, blindfolded him, tied his hands and feet together and burnt him with a cigarette all over his arms.

Another boy (15) joined MUJAO as he was desperately poor and heard they were paying people. He left after months of not being paid and was arrested by Malian security forces in his home village of Kadji (near Gao). The Malian soldiers tied him up, beat him in the back and blindfolded him.

  These are the UN's and Ladsous' partners; when asked, the UN defends them and says the ages (of those beaten and burned with cigarettes) are UNclear. To this low have Ladsous and France's intervention in Mali taken the UN. How much lower can they go?

 Inner City Press continues to await answers to questions it posed at the December 5 UN noon briefing about procurement for UN peacekeeping in Mali and particular French companies, as well as the US' PA&E. Watch this site.


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