Recent developments in Mali and Algeria and the threat to security and human rights in the Mediterranean region
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 24 January 2013 (7th and 8th Sittings) (see Doc. 13107, report of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy,
rapporteur: Ms Woldseth). Text adopted
by the Assembly on 24 January 2013 (8th Sitting).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly is deeply
concerned about the human rights and security situation in Mali and
the recent crisis in Algeria, a country in the Council of Europe’s
immediate neighbourhood, where hundreds of Algerian and foreign
nationals were taken hostage by radical terrorist groups on 16 January
2. The Assembly notes that the recent French military intervention
in Mali, in response to a specific request from the Government of
Mali and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, is aimed
at halting the al-Qaeda-linked armed groups that were rapidly advancing
towards the capital, perpetrating grave human rights violations
and threatening the stability of the entire region and the African
continent as a whole. These groups, armed with heavy weapons originating
in part from the war in Libya, gradually seized control of northern
Mali, after fighting between Malian government troops and Tuareg
rebels broke out in the north of the country in January 2012 and
after a military coup in the capital caused further political instability
in March 2012.
3. The Assembly calls for the rapid implementation of United
Nations Security Council Resolution 2085 on Mali, adopted in December
2012, which provides for the deployment of an African-led international
support mission in Mali, in co-ordination with other partners, including
a time-limited European Union-led training mission.
4. The increased involvement of, and solidarity from, other European
and African States, the European Union and the United States of
America, in support of Malian and French forces on the ground, are
necessary to put an end to the establishment of a regime based on
terrorism, hostage taking and drug and arms trafficking in the Sahel
– with all the consequences this might have for the Mediterranean
region, Europe as a whole and the international community at large
– and to restore Mali’s constitutional order and territorial integrity.
5. The Assembly recognises the complexity of the local situation
and the varied policies and background of the Tuareg groups, often
stemming from the long-standing neglect of the north from colonial
times. It notes that the traditionally nomadic Tuareg people in
northern Mali have aspired to independence for decades. However,
their renewed rebellion in January 2012 can be seen as one result
of the recent war in Libya, as Tuareg fighters, settled in Libya
or recruited as mercenaries by Gaddafi, returned to Mali after his
defeat having acquired both arms and military training.
6. In this respect, the Assembly, recalling the importance of
the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution
2017 (2011), calls upon the Libyan authorities to take all necessary
steps to prevent the proliferation of arms and related materiel
of all types, in particular man-portable surface-to-air missiles,
to ensure their proper custody, and to meet Libya's arms control,
disarmament and non-proliferation obligations under international
law, through the full implementation of their plans in this regard.
7. The Assembly welcomes the fact that Tuareg rebels have recently
renounced their independence aspirations in favour of political
autonomy within Mali, declaring their readiness to help their former
opponents in the fight against the terrorists. In this context,
the Assembly considers that the Tuareg rebels' decision constitutes
a constructive dynamic to be encouraged with a view to a peaceful,
political settlement of the regional conflicts.
8. On the other hand, the Assembly is concerned that the terrorist
cells which have infiltrated Mali in recent months reportedly originate
from all over the world.
9. The Assembly is also concerned that the continuing escalation
of the civil war in Syria, in the absence of any efficient international
solution, which should be based on the Geneva communiqué on Syria,
constitutes a further dangerous flashpoint.
10. The Assembly condemns the terrorist attack on the Algerian
gas plant in In Amenas in January 2013 and deplores the deaths of
dozens of hostages, including nationals of Council of Europe member
and observer States and States whose parliaments enjoy partner for
democracy status. This tragedy reminds the international community
of the continuing threats posed by the scourge of terrorism, and
the need for an efficient international response, including the
suppression of the sources of financing of terrorist groups.
11. The Assembly acknowledges that for many years the Algerian
Government and people have suffered the most violent attacks on
their territory from terrorists with an absolutist ideological agenda
and understands, therefore, why in the emergency situation in the
gas plant they responded robustly to terrorists with whom there was
no prospect of serious negotiation.
12. The Assembly acknowledges the Algerian security forces’ counter-terrorist
activities and the continuing threat posed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic
Maghreb (AQIM) and associated groups. European governments should
continue to assist the Algerian authorities in countering terrorist
threats in the region.
13. The Assembly recalls that the Council of Europe has drawn
up a comprehensive set of legal instruments to be used in combating
terrorism and its financing, including in particular the European
Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism (ETS No. 90 as revised
by ETS No. 190), the Council of Europe Convention for the Prevention
of Terrorism (CETS No. 196), the Council of Europe Convention on
the Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds
from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (CETS No. 198), as well
as the Committee of Ministers’ “Guidelines on human rights and the
fight against terrorism” and “Guidelines on the protection of victims
of terrorist acts”. It calls on Council of Europe member and observer States
to make full use of these instruments in co-ordinating their actions
14. The Assembly strongly condemns the continuing and shocking
human rights violations perpetrated by the radical Islamist rebels
in northern Mali, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape,
amputations, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances and recruitment
of child soldiers. It notes that human rights violations have also
been committed in government-controlled areas and urges the Malian
army and its supporters to refrain from any violent reprisals when
they start regaining control in the north.
15. It notes that a report recently published by the Office of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stresses
that women and young girls in particular have undergone degrading treatment
in the north, including harassment, abuse and sexual violence by
radical Islamist rebels, often perpetrated in front of family members,
based on accusations of being improperly veiled or dressed.
16. The Assembly welcomes the recent decision by the Prosecutor
of the International Criminal Court formally to open an investigation
into alleged crimes in Mali – including murder, rape and torture
– with a focus on the northern part of the country, having determined
that some acts of brutality and destruction may constitute war crimes.
Following a thorough and impartial investigation, perpetrators must
be brought to justice and held accountable for the crimes they have
17. The Assembly is also concerned about the humanitarian consequences
of the conflict in Mali: hundreds of thousands of civilians have
fled Mali to neighbouring countries or have been internally displaced
throughout 2012. Further displacements took place in January 2013.
The Assembly calls on Council of Europe member and observer States
to provide concrete support to the relief efforts of the Office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (OHCHR) in
Mali and neighbouring countries. It also asks them to participate actively
in the donor conference for the defence of Mali, to be held in Addis
Ababa on 29 January 2013.
18. Noting that the conflict escalated after a military coup and
the collapse of democratic institutions, the Assembly joins the
United Nations Security Council in calling on the transitional authorities
in Mali to finalise a transitional roadmap, through inclusive political
dialogue, in order to restore constitutional order and the country’s
national unity, including through the holding of peaceful, credible
and inclusive presidential and legislative elections, as soon as
technically feasible. The Assembly believes that only a reconciliation
process can ultimately provide the response not only to the current
human rights, humanitarian and security challenges in Mali, but
also to the long-standing and unresolved problems in the region.
To this end, the Assembly calls on neighbouring countries to give
their support to a political process and pursue their active commitment
in favour of preserving security and the territorial integrity of
19. Finally the Assembly notes that the terrorist attacks in Mali
and Algeria are part of a wider swathe of Islamist terrorism in
the Sahel which extends as far as Nigeria, with the atrocities committed
by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. Although there are different
national characteristics, the root motivation is similar throughout the
region. The Council of Europe member and observer States, and States
whose parliaments enjoy partner for democracy status, should be
ready to assist countries in the region, when requested, to combat
this scourge. Such assistance may involve military intervention
authorised by the United Nations Security Council, including the
provision of military assets and training and continued development
aid, but ultimately lasting stability can only be achieved by a
political roadmap leading to national reconstruction, enhanced democracy and
respect for human rights.