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Defence Forces UN Missions

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Deputy Alan Shatter

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Snippet Contents:

The Deputy raised some very important human rights issues. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights produced a report that makes a number of recommendations to the various actors involved in resolving the crisis in Mali with the aim of protecting the civilian population and promoting national reconciliation. The recommendations include ensuring that all perpetrators of human rights violations committed during the crisis are brought to justice. That is an important issue. The second, to which I made reference, is ensuring that all security forces receive training on the principles of international human rights and humanitarian law. This is where we have an active engagement.
The situation in Mali was referred from the Government of Mali on 30 July 2012 to the International Criminal Court. After conducting a preliminary examination of the situation, including an assessment of the admissibility of potential cases, the Office of the Prosecutor, OTP, determined that there was a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation. On 16 January 2013, the OTP opened an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Mali since January 2012. This decision is the result of the preliminary examination of the circumstances in Mali that the office had been conducting since July 2012. In the course of the preliminary examination, the office identified potential cases of sufficient gravity to require further action. It has been determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe the following crimes were committed, not only by government troops: murder; mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; and intentionally directed attacks against protected objects, which Deputy Broughan referred to in mentioning the culture of Mali. Much of this has to do with what happened at the hands of the fundamentalists in northern Mali, but this investigation included any allegations made against the troops of the Malian army. Other crimes listed in the report include the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court. Deputy McGrath expressed concern about executions carried out by fundamentalists for alleged criminal activity without any proper trials. Reference was also made to pillaging and, more important, rape.
Based on the information gathered to date, the investigation will focus on crimes committed in the three northern regions of Mali, namely, Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu. EU foreign Ministers have welcomed the announcement by the OTP that an investigation such as I have described is taking place. Lest it be believed that, in the context of the roles of this State, the Irish Presidency, my Ministry or the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, we have ignored any of these issues, I stress that not only have we not ignored them, we have welcomed the engagement of the court in examining allegations of a very serious nature that have been made and examining the background to atrocities that are clearly documented, including by film in some instances, and which clearly occurred in the past 16 to 17 months in the very troubled country of Mali.