Mali: UN experts call for independent investigation into “possible crimes” by Wagner

Mali: UN experts call for independent investigation into « Wagner's Possible Crimes


UN-mandated experts on Tuesday called for an “immediate independent” investigation into possible “war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed by government forces and mercenaries from the private Russian paramilitary group Wagner.&nbsp ;

Since 2021, these independent experts commissioned by the Human Rights Council have received “continuing and alarming accounts of horrific executions, mass graves, torture, rape and sexual violence, looting, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances perpetrated by the Malian armed forces and their allies in the Mopti region and elsewhere, in the context of ongoing hostilities,” said a press release.

The text is notably signed by the Working Group on the use of mercenaries and by the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the fight against terrorism and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. These experts do not speak on behalf of the UN.

“We are particularly concerned by credible reports that, over several days at the end of March 2022, the Malian armed forces, accompanied by soldiers suspected of belonging to the Wagner group, executed several hundred people, who had been gathered in Moura, a village in central Mali,” they explain, pointing out that most of the victims belonged to the Fulani minority.

“We are troubled by the apparent increase in the allocation of traditional military functions to the Wagner group in various military operations, including operations defined as counter-terrorism, notably in Nia Ouro, Gouni and Fakala,” the experts added.


Mali was the scene of two military coups in August 2020 and May 2021. Although it never admitted it, the junta appealed to Wagner while initially pushing for military force French Barkhane, after years of anti-jihadist struggle. 

In November, the junta refuted the conclusions of a report by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) which had already accused the army of abuses against civilians, alliance with Wagner's mercenaries and segregation against the Fulani community.

“Mali must exercise the utmost vigilance to prohibit the direct participation in hostilities of all individuals operating in its territory. The use of mercenaries, mercenary-like actors and private military and security companies only exacerbates the cycle of violence and impunity that prevails in the country,” the experts further insisted.