International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] on Monday warned the Malian government [press release] over reports of human rights abuses by Malian forces. In the statement, Bensouda urged Malian authorities to put an immediate stop to the alleged abuses and to investigate and prosecute those responsible. Bensouda announced [JURIST report] last week that her office has launched an investigation [press release] into possible war crimes committed in Mali. Bensouda said, "I remind all parties to the on-going conflict in Mali that my Office has jurisdiction over all serious crimes committed within the territory of Mali, from January 2012 onwards. All those alleged to be responsible for serious crimes in Mali must be held accountable."
Mali has drawn increased international scrutiny recently regarding political violence and alleged human rights abuses. On Friday the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] issued a report saying that the tumultuous situation in Mali has led to human rights violations [JURIST report]. Last week the interim president declared a state of emergency [JURIST report]. The prime minister of Mali, Cheick Modibo Diarra, was forced to resign [JURIST report] in December on state television after junta soldiers arrested him for attempting to leave the country in light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis threatening the nation. In September Human Rights Watch reported that three armed Islamist groups in northern Mali are abusing the local population and recruiting child soldiers [JURIST report]. Earlier that month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] condemned [JURIST report] human rights violations in Mali and called for international action to address the problems. In August officials from the ICC were in Mali investigating [JURIST report] whether the same two Islamic groups had committed war crimes in Mali.