The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2019/280) issued on 29 March 2018.

In 2018, conflict-related sexual violence remained underreported owing to high levels of insecurity, the unwillingness or failure to investigate and prosecute cases, and the stigmatization of survivors. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali verified cases committed by non-State armed groups in Ménaka, Mopti, Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao Regions. Of 22 reported incidents (2 rapes and 20 gang rapes), 12 occurred in Gao, 5 in Mopti, 4 in Timbuktu and 1 in Ménaka. The survivors included 13 women and 9 girls. It was verified that 17 incidents were perpetrated by unidentified armed men, 4 by Front de libération des régions du Nord elements and 1 by a Groupe d’autodéfense des Touaregs Imghad et leurs alliés element. In respect of sexual violence perpetrated in the context of terrorism, 4 women were abducted from Dialoubé and raped by the Front de libération du Macina elements; 2 women were reportedly raped by 2 unidentified armed men in Ansongo cercle, Gao Region; 4 young women were raped on their way to the local market by 3 unidentified armed men, and a 14-year-old girl was raped by an element of Groupe d’autodéfense des Touaregs Imghad et leurs alliés based in the locality of Ansongo. To date, no investigation has been opened by the gendarmerie of Ansongo regarding any of those cases.

A further 116 cases of conflict-related sexual violence were reported, 92 of which were attributed to unidentified armed elements and 24 to the Malian Defence and Security Forces. Of the 116 cases of rape, 16 resulted in pregnancy, including in the cases of 6 victims who were under the age of 18. Despite consistent reports since 2014 of cases of conflict-related sexual violence being perpetrated by armed groups as well as some cases attributed to the Malian Defence and Security Forces, there have been no prosecutions.

The fact that the perpetrators of the crimes of sexual violence committed during the 2012–2013 crisis have yet to be held to account remains a concern. While a coalition of six non-governmental organizations filed two collective complaints on behalf of 115 victims of sexual violence five years ago, those cases have been pending ever since.

The Mission supported designated focal points of the Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad in preparing an implementation plan on conflict-related sexual violence with five priorities, covering prevention, protection, accountability, capacity-building and communication. The one-stop centre in Bamako, launched in June, provides medical, psychosocial, protection and legal services to survivors.

The Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) concerning Mali visited the country in March and December. The Chair expressed concerns about grave human rights violations, including conflict-related sexual violence, following his meetings with women’s groups and signatories to the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. In their reports, the Panel of Experts on Mali also noted sexual violence among the violations being consistently perpetrated by parties to the conflict.

Recommendation

I welcome the joint communiqué signed by the Government of Mali and the United Nations in March 2019 to allow for a more focused response to conflict-related sexual violence. I urge the Government to implement the national strategy adopted in October 2018 and expedite the enactment of the draft law on preventing, repressing and responding to gender-based violence. I further urge the Government to ensure the timely investigation and prosecution of cases of conflict-related sexual violence, in particular the 115 cases pending before commune III in Bamako.

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