UN experts call for war crimes probe into Wagner group, gov’t forces in Mali
UN experts on Tuesday (31 January) called for an independent investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russian private military contractor Wagner Group and government forces in Mali.
This comes just days after the US formally designated (26 January) Russia’s Kremlin-affiliated Wagner Group as a transnational criminal organization responsible for widespread human rights abuses and sanctioned associated targets. Mali, whose government took power in a 2021 military coup, have previously said Russian forces in the West African country are not mercenaries but trainers helping local troops with equipment bought from Russia. But according to the statement from the independent UN experts, “since 2021, [we] have received persistent and alarming accounts of horrific executions, mass graves, acts of torture, rape and sexual violence, pillaging, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances perpetrated by Malian armed forces and their allies.”
Since the use of mercenaries, private security, and military companies exacerbate the cycle of violence, impunity in Mali, the experts have urged an immediate independent investigation into gross human rights abuses and possible war crimes committed by these state and non-state actors in Mali. The experts said they had conveyed their concerns about the allegations to the Mali government. Since 2012, Mali has been battling growing violence linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh/ISIS terror groups in northern and central Mali.