The trial of Amadou Haya Sanago opens in Mali: a crucial step forward in the fight against impunity

The trial of Amadou Haya Sanogo, leader of the March 2012 military coup in Mali, will open in Sikasso on 30 November 2016. He will be tried along with 17 co-defendants, including several high-ranking Malian military officials. FIDH and AMDH are civil parties to the case – known as the case of the “disappeared bérets rouges” – and are accompanying 23 of the victims’ close relatives and family connections. Both organisations welcome this trial, which represents a significant step in the fight against impunity both for the gravest crimes committed in the north and south of Mali since 2012, as well as for Africa as a whole. FIDH and AMDH now call on the judicial authorities to ensure a fair and just trial.  “The victims and our organisations want to see their position and interests taken into account and also expect the trial to be conducted fairly and in a transparent way, with the aim of delivering justice for the victims” stated Moctar Mariko, lawyer representing victims in the case and President of AMDH.Lawyers from FIDH’s Litigation Action Group (LAG) joined both FIDH and AMDH as civil parties to the case in 2013, supported 23 of the victims’ close relatives and family connections throughout the investigation phase of the proceedings and will also be representing them during the trial in Sikasso. The Litigation Action Group has mobilised lawyers from human rights organisations that are members of FIDH in Mali, Senegal, France and Ivory Coast, who are working on cases against perpetrators of mass crimes in these countries and across Africa.“A trial of this kind is an opportunity to bring out the truth over a difficult period in Mali’s recent history, during which – while the country was being attacked from the North – a handful of officers unhesitatingly executed 21 soldiers in cold blood in an effort to hold on to power acquired a few days earlier in a military coup. Mali honours itself by rendering justice and giving the defendants a right which they denied their victims” stated Clémence Bectarte, co-ordinator of the FIDH Litigation Action Group and lawyer representing the victims in the Sikasso trial. FIDH and AMDH urge the Malian government to take the necessary measures to ensure the trial is properly held, especially in terms of guaranteeing the security of the victims, their lawyers, and representatives of human rights organisations who will be attending the trial. On several occasions since 2013, individuals claiming to support Amadou Haya Sanogo have exerted pressure on or threatened the victims’ families, seeking to force them to abandon their fight for truth and justice in relation to the fate of their loved ones.“This is a historic and symbolic trial for Mali, a country marked since January 2012 by the perpetration of grave human rights violations. It is an essential step towards a new chapter following the military coups, drawing a line under these events” stated Drissa Traoré, FIDH Vice-President. “The trial should also be a catalyst for advancing other cases within the Malian justice system, especially those concerning the “30 September 2013 mutiny” and the crimes committed in the north of the country since January 2012”, he added. Background: “The military coup and the counter-coup seen against the backdrop of conflict in northern Mali”.A strong FIDH and AMDH delegation will be present in Sikasso throughout the trial. Members of the delegation are available to give additional explanations and comments. Distributed by APO on behalf of International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).Media filesDownload logo