DAKAR — Mali’s ruling junta has asked prosecutors to probe the UN’s peacekeeping mission for “espionage” following a report which said hundreds of people were massacred last year by Malian troops and their allies.
In a statement published on social media on Tuesday, the public prosecutor’s office said a unit specializing in “terrorism and transnational crime” had received a complaint from the state over members of the MINUSMA mission.
MINUSMA’s human rights division investigated events that unfolded in the central town of Moura between May 27-31, 2022. According to a report published last month by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at least 500 people were executed by the Malian army and “foreign” fighters.
The junta’s complaint describes the MINUSMA members as “co-authors or accomplices in crimes, among others, of espionage, harming the morale of the army or air force, use of false documents and harming external state security,” said the statement, which was dated Monday.
The figures cited by the OHCHR amount to the worst atrocity Mali has experienced since a militant insurgency flared in 2012. It was also the most damning document yet against Mali’s armed forces and their allies.
The nationality of the foreigners was not explicitly identified in the report, but Mali has brought in Russian paramilitaries that Western countries and others say are Wagner mercenaries. The junta on May 14 savaged the report as “fictitious” and said the only dead were “terrorist fighters,” a term typically used to described militants.
It also said the UN used satellites to gather information without government clearance — a technique, it said, that amounted to espionage and warranted investigation. The accusation accelerates a downward spiral between the junta and the MINUSMA, or the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
Mali on Friday called on the UN Security Council to withdraw the 15,000 peacekeepers immediately, denouncing the “failure” of the 10-year-old mission to meet security challenges. MINUSMA’s mandate expires on June 30.
The landlocked state has been ruled by the military since 2020, when its elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was swept aside by army officers angered at his inability to roll back the militant insurgency. The junta then forged an alliance with the Kremlin, prompting France, the country’s traditional ally, to withdraw its troops after Russian personnel moved in.