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BAMAKO, Nov 7 — The rights situation in Mali is “very concerning”, a senior UN official has told AFP after visiting a country rocked by a jihadist insurgency and hit by two coups in a year.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris said it was “urgent” to act against impunity for rights violators.

The international body’s latest report published in August found at least 527 civilians had been killed, wounded or kidnapped between April and June.

Attacks, bombings and gunfights happen almost every day in Mali, where pro-independence groups in the north in 2012, plunging the country into conflict.

Foreign troops have supported the national army in its fight against jihadists allied to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, as well as bandits, vigilantes and other armed groups.

Brands Kehris said that as well as fighting impunity and terrorist offences, there were “more sensitive matters” to address, including rights violations by the armed forces.

Poorly trained and equipped, the Malian army has frequently been targeted with allegations of rights infringements.

A UN inquiry accused it of war crimes in a 2020 report.

The system for trying alleged violators is experiencing some “logjams”, Brands Kehris said.

“We have to follow up, identify where there are blockages and why, and also continue to communicate that we are here, we’re watching, but we’re also ready to provide support.” — AFP

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