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Mali: PACE calls for increased involvement and solidarity in support of Malian and French forces

Strasbourg, 24.01.2013 – The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), meeting in plenary session in Strasbourg, today said that “the increased involvement of, and solidarity by, European and African States, the EU 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” and restore Mali’s constitutional order and territorial integrity.

At the end of an urgent debate, the Assembly condemned the terrorist attack on the Algerian gas plant in In Amenas and deplored the deaths of dozens of hostages. ”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.”

The adopted text, based on the proposals of the rapporteur Karin Woldseth (Norway, EDG), condemns the continuing and shocking human rights violations perpetrated by the radical Islamist rebels in northern Mali, but also notes that human rights violations have been committed in government-controlled areas too. The Malian army and its supporters must “refrain from any violent reprisals when they start regaining control in the north”.

The Assembly welcomes the recent decision by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court formally to open an investigation into alleged crimes in Mali. It also expresses concern about the humanitarian consequences of the conflict and calls on Council of Europe member and observer States to provide concrete support to the relief efforts by the UNHCR.

Noting that the conflict escalated after a military coup and the collapse of democratic institutions, 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 longstanding and unresolved problems in the region”.

Finally the Assembly notes that the terrorist attacks in Mali and Algeria are part of a wider swathe in the Sahel which extends as far as Nigeria. “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,” the adopted text concludes.