´The European initiative falls short: Mali needs a comprehensive reform of the army – war crimes must be resolved

Start of the EU training mission for the Malian army

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) in Göttingen expressed sharp criticism towards the EU training mission for the Malian army, which started today. "Anyone who attempts to train the Malian troops without a comprehensive reform is bound to fail," said the STP's expert on questions regarding Africa, Ulrich Delius, on Tuesday. "The Malian army is hopelessly divided and unable to respect basic human rights or the most important constitutional institutions of the country. The Malian population needs to be protected from Mali's army, not by the army."

"Anyone involved in training these marauding troops without having their human rights violations resolved will become an accessory to the crimes," said Delius. "It is not enough that the EU is planning to include human rights lectures in the training mission. Mali's army is for new human rights violations every day – without the responsible people being held accountable. "

Thus, there have been no investigations on the violent deaths of 295 people or the arrests and abductions of more than 130 Tuareg, Moors, Fulani, Songhai and members of other disadvantaged groups – which are supposed to have been committed by the Malian security forces in January 2013. Further, more than 1,100 businesses and homes in the north of the country were looted by soldiers, without the responsible people being punished.

The EU training mission in Mali is neither purposeful nor sustainable or efficient. As long as the fundamental problems of the local troops are not solved, the mission is bound to fail. The mission would only make sense in the context of a comprehensive reform of the security sector in Mali. But Mali's government is obviously not willing to accept this. It was not until February 2013 – seven months after the founding of a reform committee – that Captain Amadou Sanogo was appointed to become head of the committee.

"However, Sanogo does not stand for a reform of the army", criticized Delius. He is responsible for the military coup of March 22, 2012, which enabled the rebel groups to gain territory and which caused even more internal disputes within the army. Sanogo and his supporters are also responsible for serious human rights violations. After the coup, they tortured soldiers or abducted military personnel. The STP demands that Sanogo must be brought to justice for these human rights violations – instead of entrusting him with the reform of the army.