New measures for victims in Mali
Following a mission to Bamako, the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) (https://www.TrustFundforVictims.org/) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced new rehabilitation measures for victims in Mali. These measures are intended to address the harms suffered by the victims in the centre and north of the country, in complementarity with the measures already in place in Timbuktu and the mechanism deployed by the State of Mali.
“Crimes under international law have multiplied in Mali in recent years, particularly in the centre and north-east of the country. While waiting for justice to be done, we have decided to put in place measures to help rehabilitate victims in these regions. Many of them are currently in an extremely precarious situation and some of them have lost all of their property. In making this decision, we want to enable survivors to move forward and thus contribute to the transitional justice process,” stated Ms Mama Koité Doumbia, Chair of the Trust Fund for Victims.
The Trust Fund for Victims will implement this new programme in partnership with organisations established in Mali. The victims who are eligible for these new measures will thus be able to benefit, inter alia, from medical treatment and psychological rehabilitation measures, including trauma counselling, and material support, particularly in relation to developing means of subsistence.
These measures, of which implementation is expected to begin in 2021, will complement the judicial reparations ordered by the International Criminal Court following the conviction of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi for the destruction of the mausoleums and the gate of the Sidi Yahia Mosque. The Decision of the judges at the ICC provides for individual, collective and symbolic judicial reparations for the community in Timbuktu and also for the Malian and international communities, in order to compensate for the harm caused by the destruction of a world heritage site. The initial measures are in the process of being implemented.
These measures are also intended to complement the national mechanism for transitional justice and reconciliation. During a mission to Bamako, which included meetings with government authorities, the Trust Fund for Victims was able to assess the efforts undertaken by the State of Mali to enable the victims to receive reparations. In this respect, the national reparations policy proposal, which is currently being reviewed, provides for the establishment of an Administration Committee for Reparations to Victims (Commission d’administration des réparations aux victimes). This committee would be able to take over the function of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Committee (Commission Vérité, Justice et Réconciliation), whose mandate expires in 2021, and which has already interviewed almost 18,000 victims across the entire territory. It would therefore, be able to make proposals for compensation and complete the transitional justice initiatives adopted in the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali resulting from the Algiers Process, which also provides for the prosecution of the perpetrators of the most serious crimes. The measures implemented by the Trust Fund for Victims will operate in complementarity with this initiative and will be aimed at supporting the reparations measures being implemented by the State of Mali.
“Although they do not replace the judicial proceedings to which they are entitled, these new measures are very good news for victims in Mali, as well as for the victims in Timbuktu. At a time when the victims of Al Mahdi are preparing to receive their first reparations, this decision is a beacon of hope for those affected by the most serious crimes committed anywhere within Malian territory”, stated Mr Mayombo Kassongo, counsel for the victims in the Al Mahdi case before the International Criminal Court.
The Trust Fund will continue its efforts to mobilise resources and partners to benefit the victims in Mali.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Trust Fund for Victims.
Aude Le Goff
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About The Trust Fund for Victims:
Although it is separate from the ICC, the Trust Fund for Victims (https://www.TrustFundforVictims.org/) was established in 2004 by the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC, pursuant to article 79 of the Rome Statute. The Trust Fund addresses the harm resulting from crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC: it ensures that the rights of the victims and their families are upheld by providing them with assistance and reparations. The Trust Fund therefore has a two-fold mandate: i) to implement orders for reparations issued by the ICC and ii) to provide the victims and their families with physical rehabilitation, psychological rehabilitation and material support. By funding the programme, and thus helping the victims to recover a life of dignity and participate in the life of their community, the Trust Fund for Victims will be contributing to the establishment of a long-term, sustainable peace through its promotion of restorative justice and reconciliation.
About the ICC in Mali:
Mali ratified the Rome Statute on 16 August 2000 and referred the situation that has existed within its territory since 2012 to the ICC (https://www.ICC-CPI.int/). After conducting a preliminary investigation of the situation, on 16 January 2013 the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, opened an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Mali since January 2012. Two cases have so far been initiated:
Al Mahdi: Following his trial, Trial Chamber VIII, in its judgment of 27 September 2016, found Ahmad Al Mahdi guilty of the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against buildings of a religious and historical character in Timbuktu, Mali, during June and July 2012. It sentenced Ahmad Al Mahdi to nine years of imprisonment. On 17 August 2017, Trial Chamber VIII issued a Reparations Order setting Mr Al Mahdi’s liability for the individual and collective reparations to be made to the community of Timbuktu at €2.7 million. On 8 March 2018, the Appeals Chamber delivered its judgment confirming, for the most part, the Reparations Order. As Mr Ahmad Al Mahdi is indigent, the Trust Fund for Victims was encouraged to complement the reparations award. In collaboration with its implementation partners, the Trust Fund for Victims will begin the reparations activities in December 2020.
Al Hassan: an arrest warrant was issued against Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud on 27 March 2018. He was transferred to the ICC on 31 March 2018 and is currently in the custody of the Court. His trial opened on 14 July 2020 before Trial Chamber X for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Timbuktu and is currently in progress.