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TITLE:  MALI HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                              
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Mali has a constitutional Government headed by President Alpha 
Konare.  After the overthrow of the Moussa Traore regime in 
March 1991, the country went through a 14-month transition 
period during which Mali held its first democratic national 
elections.  In a series of six direct elections between January 
and April 1992, Malians ratified a new Constitution, elected 
municipal councilors, National Assembly deputies, and, finally, 
a President.  Twenty-one political parties nationwide 
participated in elections, judged by international observers to 
be free and fair.

There was a gradual normalization of the security situation 
following the signing of the National Pact in April 1992, a 
major truce agreement, which ended the insurgency in the north 
involving varied Tuareg and Maur groups, ranging from 
politically motivated persons seeking an autonomous Tuareg 
state to those engaged in simple banditry.  The improved 
security situation relieved some domestic pressure but allowed 
other problems to come to the fore.  Violent student 
demonstrations over government efforts to restrict scholarships 
in April forced the resignation of the first government of the 
Third Republic.  The President, in a bid to develop a 
consensual approach to the nation's problems, incorporated 
several former opposition political parties into the second 
Government, headed by Prime Minister Abdoulaye Sekou Sow.

Mali's military and security forces number some 7,000 and are 
divided between the Army, Air Force, Gendarmerie, the 
Republican Guard, and the police.  The Army and Air Force are 
under the control of a civilian Minister of Defense.  The 
Gendarmerie and Republican Guard are also part of the defense 
structure but are assigned, for operational purposes, along 
with the police, to the Ministry of Territorial 
Administration.  This was done in an attempt to provide a more 
concerted and better organized force in the face of rising 
civil disturbances.  With the end of the Tuareg rebellion, 
there were few reports of abuses by the military and security 
forces, who remain supportive of the young democracy. 

Mali continues to be beset by a myriad of economic problems 
including a sagging economy, a national debt roughly equal to 
its gross domestic product, dependence on international donors, 
inadequate government revenues, demands from a number of vocal 
special interest groups, and a literacy rate of only 23 
percent.  Its annual per capita gross national product is 
approximately $300.  Mali's economy is based primarily on 
subsistence farming and animal husbandry, making it highly 
dependent on adequate rainfall for its economic well-being.  
The Government, at the senior levels, continues to be committed 
to implementing reforms aimed at modernizing the economy 
through fiscal and regulatory reforms.

The Government respected constitutional provisions on freedom 
of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion, and, 
with the signing of the National Pact and the end of the Tuareg 
rebellion, there were no new extrajudicial killings committed 
by the security forces.  Nevertheless, there were human rights 
abuses, notably in the Government's inability to process the 
large backlog of judicial cases in accordance with the law.  
This has resulted in persons languishing in prison for several 
years awaiting trial.  Social and cultural factors continued to 
sharply limit economic and educational opportunities for most 


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of targeted political killings and no 
credible reports of extrajudicial killings on the part of 
security forces.  The signing of the National Pact in 1992 with 
the Tuareg rebels, the formation of mixed patrols, and the 
integration of 600 former Tuareg rebels into the armed forces 
in the north brought an end to most organized insurgency in 
region.  However, the Commission of Inquiry that was to have 
been established to investigate all deaths on both sides of the 
conflict had not been created by year's end. 

     b.  Disappearance

There have been no incidents of abduction or disappearances 
attributable to government or opposition forces.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution states that no one will be subjected to 
torture and cruel, inhuman, degrading, or humiliating 
treatment.  There were no known reports, including in the 
media, of police or military beating of detainees.

Prison conditions are still characterized by overcrowding, 
inadequate medical facilities, and limited food supplies.  The 
Government is seeking foreign assistance to help improve the 
situation, and several associations are working with women and 
juvenile prisoners to improve their conditions.  Juvenile 
offenders are generally held in the same prison as adult 
offenders.  Women are housed in the same prison as men but live 
in a separate compound.  During past prison riots, male inmates 
have attacked and raped female inmates.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution has expanded the rights of arrested persons. 
Arrested persons must be charged or released within 48 hours, 
and they are entitled to counsel.  In practice, detainees are 
not always charged within the 48-hour period, and 
administrative backlogs as well as insufficient numbers of 
lawyers, judges, and courts often cause lengthy delays in 
bringing people to trial.  In extreme cases, individuals can 
languish several years in prison before coming to trial.

The law does not provide for release on bail, but detainees are 
sometimes released on their own recognizance.  In October the 
court released on their own recognizance six former government 
and party officials from the Moussa Traore regime, awaiting 
trial for economic crimes against the State (see Section 1.e.). 

In July 1991, the Government arrested Commandant Lamine Diabira 
and several other military personnel for plotting to overthrow 
the then transitional government.  At year's end, Diabira had 
still not been charged with a crime and remained in custody.  
Meanwhile, the Government has released his accused 
coconspirators.  In response to diplomatic inquiries, the 
Ministries of Justice and Human Rights insisted that the 
Government was not technically in violation of the law, 
although the authorities failed to clarify the legal ground for 
the continued imprisonment of Diabira without trial.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for the independence of the 
judiciary.  However, the executive branch has considerable 
influence on the judicial system:  The Ministry of Justice 
appoints judges and supervises both law enforcement and 
judicial functions, and the Superior Judicial Council, which 
supervises judicial activity, is headed by the President.  The 
Supreme Court has both judicial and administrative powers.  The 
Constitution established a separate Constitutional Court and a 
High Court of Justice with the power to try senior government 
officials in cases of treason.  Except in the case of minors, 
trials are public, and defendants have the right to be present 
and to have an attorney of their choice.  Defendants are 
presumed innocent and have the right to appeal decisions to the 
Supreme Court.  Court-appointed attorneys are provided for the 

Following the overthrow of Moussa Traore in 1991, the new 
government arrested him, his family, and about two dozen 
members of his government and political party and charged them 
with various crimes.  A court found the former president and 
three former government officials to be responsible for the 
deaths of over 100 people during the demonstrations that led to 
Traore's overthrow and sentenced the four to death in 1993.  
Although the Supreme Court denied their subsequent appeal, the 
President could still commute their sentences.  These 4 men and 
17 others, including the former president's wife, son, and 
brother-in-law, face additional charges for economic crimes 
against the State.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

Inviolability of the home is provided for in the Constitution 
and is respected in practice.  Police searches are infrequent, 
and warrants, issued by judges, are required.  The security 
forces maintain physical surveillance of individuals and groups 
suspected or known to be a threat to internal security, and, 
with court approval, may maintain technical surveillance as 

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press.  The 
Government controls the only television station, one radio 
station, and the only daily newspaper, but these all operate on 
a semi-independent basis and are open to a wide range of views, 
including those critical of the President, the Government, and 
other politicians.  Apart from the government radio chain, 
there are seven independent stations in Bamako and another six 
independent regional stations.  In spite of only a 23-percent 
literacy rate, there are nearly 50 independent newspapers and 
journals.  Political meetings take place openly and without 

The National Assembly passed new laws regulating the press.  
These laws provide substantial penalties, including 
imprisonment, for slander and for public injury to the Head of 
State and other officials, including foreign diplomats.  Such 
injury is not defined in the law and therefore is subject to 
judicial interpretation.  In a case currently under way, the 
President of the Supreme Court is suing the publisher of two 
weekly newspapers for slanderous comments.

Following complaints from journalists' organizations, the 
Government asked the National Assembly to review all press 
laws, particularly those on the composition of the proposed 
National Press Council that will be responsible for enforcing 
press regulations.  No results were available at year's end.

Academic freedom is respected.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution protects the right of assembly and 
association.  Permits must be obtained for mass demonstrations, 
and these are routinely granted.  However, in Bamako in April, 
students did not obtain a permit, and their demonstrations 
protesting reductions in scholarships turned violent, leading 
to destruction of property.

There are dozens of political parties and hundreds of 
professional and special interest associations.  The 
Constitution forbids the formation of political parties based 
on religion, region, or ethnicity, and political parties must 
have their charters approved by the Ministry of Territorial 
Administration.  Following the former President's overthrow, 
the transitional government banned the party of Moussa Traore, 
the Democratic Union of the Malian People (UDPM).  The UDPM 
applied in 1993 for recognition, but the Government denied the 
application on a technicality.  This action engendered much 
public debate and criticism, and the UDPM planned to appeal the 
Government's decision.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Mali is a secular state.  The Government does not discriminate 
on religious grounds.  Although 90-95 percent of the population 
are Muslim, members of other religions freely practice their 
faiths and are permitted to establish houses of worship and 
schools.  Christian missionaries of various denominations, 
including foreign missionaries, operate freely.  Proselytizing 
and conversion are permitted.  The Government prohibits 
publications in which one religious group defames another; the 
Minister of Territorial Administration determines whether a 
publication is defamatory.

In October the Ministry of Territorial Administration canceled 
the visa of a Protestant German evangelist who had been 
planning to hold a number of revival meetings in Bamako later 
that month.  The official reason for the cancellation was fear 
of civil unrest as the evangelist's visit to Nigeria in 1991 
had led to large-scale riots.  However, it was widely assumed 
that the Government canceled the visa as a result of pressure 
from local Islamic organizations and associations.  The press 
was critical of the Government's decision, calling it a 
violation of the Constitution.

Administrative orders promulgated in 1977 prohibiting members 
of the Baha'i faith from meeting in groups of more than three  
people are not enforced, and Baha'i practice their faith 
without interference. 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Freedom of movement is generally unrestricted although police 
checks occur in which Malians and foreigners are stopped, 
particularly at night.  These checks are ostensibly used to 
restrict the movement of contraband goods and to verify vehicle 
registrations, but some police and gendarmes use the occasion 
to extort bribes.  An exit visa is no longer needed.

In recent years, Mali has both accepted and generated displaced 
persons.  Approximately 13,000 Mauritanian Peuhl refugees, who 
fled strife in their country in 1990, settled in Mali.  For the 
most part, they have been absorbed into the local economy.

The fighting in the north between government troops and Tuareg 
rebels generated an estimated 100,000 Tuareg and Maur refugees, 
most of whom fled to Mauritania, Algeria, and Burkina Faso.  
With the improved security situation in the three northern 
regions, the flow of Malian refugees declined, and the 
Government, together with its neighbors and the United Nations 
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), planned to repatriate 
Malians refugees in those countries.  However, at year's end, 
only a few families had returned.

Initial reports of an incident on December 12 indicate that an 
army patrol killed three Tuareg refugees returning from 
Mauritania.  The patrol contends that the three were bandits 
killed in a fire fight as the patrol attempted to apprehend 
them following an earlier attack on a transport convoy.  The 
Office of the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and senior 
representatives of the rebel movement formed a joint commission 
to investigate the incident but had not released a report by 
the end of the year.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

In 1992 Malians for the first time exercised their right to 
change their government through peaceful means, electing a new 
President and a new multiparty National Assembly.

The Third Republic is a multiparty democracy, based on the 
Constitution drawn up at the August 1991 National Conference 
and ratified in the January 1992 referendum.  Under the 
Constitution, the President is Chief of State and Commander in  
Chief of the Armed Forces and is elected for a term of 5 years 
with a limit of two terms.  The President appoints a Prime 
Minister, who is Head of Government.  The National Assembly 
consists of 116 members, and representation is apportioned 
according to the population of administrative districts.  
Election is both direct and by party list.  The Constitution 
provides for a separation of executive, legislative, and 
judicial powers and for control of the military by the 

Twenty-one political parties nationwide participated in the 
municipal, legislative, and presidential elections held between 
February and April 1992.  The parties campaigned freely and had 
broad access to the state-owned media.  Citizen participation 
in the elections was low but was fairly evenly distributed  
across most regions, ethnic groups, and between men and women.  
Balloting was secret.

Although there were complaints about some irregularities, all 
parties accepted the outcome.  President Alpha Oumar Konare won 
60 percent of the vote in the second round of presidential 
balloting.  Konare's party, the Association for Democracy in 
Mali, also won the majority of seats in the National Assembly 
in which 10 other parties are represented.  The National 
Assembly is still a young institution.  Most legislation 
originates in the Government and its ministries and is approved 
by the Assembly, but debate on key issues is vigorous.

Women are poorly represented in the political process.  There 
are 2 female deputies in the 116-member National Assembly and 1 
female minister in the Cabinet.  A second woman, the Secretary 
for the Promotion of Women, holds ministerial rank.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

There are two independent human rights organizations:  The 
Malian Association for Human Rights (AMDH), and the smaller 
Malian League of Human Rights.  Neither organization has been 
active in highlighting human rights abuses since the 
installation of democracy in Mali.

In April the Government established a Ministry of Human Rights 
separate from the Ministry of Justice, but by year's end the 
Human Rights Ministry had been folded into the Ministry of 

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


The Constitution affirms that there shall be no discrimination 
based on sex, but social and cultural factors give men a 
dominant role.  While there are a number of women in the 
professions and government, economic and educational 
opportunities for women remain limited.  Women often live under 
harsh conditions, especially in the rural areas, where they 
perform much of the hard farm labor and most of the 

A 1991 United Nations report indicated that females receive 
only 29 percent of the schooling of males (in terms of average 
number of years of schooling).  Only 20 percent of children 
have access to basic education.  The Government, with help from 
international donors and private voluntary organizations, is 
working to persuade the public of the need for increased female 
education, but limited financial resources, social and cultural 
factors, and the harsh demands of daily life keep females from 
participating to the same extent as their male counterparts.

Despite legislation passed giving women equal rights regarding 
property, traditional practice and ignorance of the law prevent 
women from taking advantage of this reform.  There are some 
active women's groups that promote the rights of women and 

Violence against women, including wife beating, is accepted and 
pervasive.  The society generally does not tolerate spousal 
abuse that results in physical injury and deals with the 
problem informally at the village or family level.  Legal 
action for redress of injury in such cases is not normally 
available, although severe physical injury is grounds for 


There is no constitutional or legal provision to protect the 
interests and rights of children, but the Constitution provides 
for basic human rights for all persons.  The Malian Social 
Services Department investigates and intervenes in cases of 
reported child abuse or neglect.  The Government's resources 
are insufficient to meet the basic health care and education 
needs of Malian children.

Female genital mutilation (circumcision) is widely condemned by 
international health experts as damaging to both physical and 
psychological health.  It is still common in Mali, especially 
in rural areas, and is performed at an early age on females.  
The Government has not proposed legislation prohibiting female 
circumcision, but it supports educational efforts to eliminate 
the practice through seminars and conferences.  It also 
provides media access to women's groups and others who are 
attempting to end female genital mutilation.  According to an 
international expert, 75 percent of the females in Mali have 
undergone this mutilation.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Virtually all ethnic and language groups are represented at all 
levels of government and society and suffer little 
discrimination.  The nomadic populations, however, are not 
completely integrated into the economic and political 
mainstream, and they resent being politically dominated by 
other more numerous ethnic groups.  Economic life in the three 
northern regions was significantly disrupted during the recent 
rebellion, but the National Pact, signed in April 1992, makes 
provisions for the social and economic reintegration of the 
displaced populations and for a much greater degree of 
political autonomy.  Resource limitations have hindered 
implementation of the Pact's provisions.

     People with Disabilities

There is no specific legislation protecting the rights of the 
physically disabled or mentally handicapped, including on 
accessibility.  The physically disabled are not discriminated 
against in access to employment, education, and other state 
services.  Given the high unemployment rates, however, the 
physically disabled are often unable to find work.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution and the Labor Code specifically provide for 
the freedom of workers to form or join unions and protect 
freedom of association.  Only the military, the gendarmerie, 
and the Republican Guard are excluded from forming unions.  
Virtually all salaried employees in Mali are organized.

Under the old constitution, labor unions had to belong to one 
confederation, the National Union of Malian Workers (UNTM).  
While most unions are still part of the UNTM and while no new 
confederations have yet formed, some unions have withdrawn from 
the UNTM, and new unions tend to remain outside the UNTM.  
Workers have established independent unions for teachers, 
magistrates, and health workers.  The UNTM, for its part, was a 
leading force in the overthrow of the previous regime and has 
maintained its autonomy from the current Government.

The Constitution provides for the right to strike, and although 
there are some limiting conditions, these are not especially 
restrictive.  There were several strikes, notably among civil 
servants in the education and health sectors, over salary 
issues and working conditions.  They were legal and did not 
involve violence.  The strike actions were generally resolved 
by negotiations between the labor unions, management, and the 
Government.  Workers must give 2 weeks' notice of a planned 
strike and must enter into negotiations with the employer and a 
third party, usually the Ministry of Labor.  Workers receive no 
pay for the time they are on strike.  The Labor Code does 
prevent retribution against strikers.  Most strikes have 
involved government employees, and there has been no attempt on 
the part of the Government to retaliate.

Unions in Mali are free to associate with and participate in 
international bodies. 

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

True collective bargaining does not take place.  Wages and 
salaries for those workers belonging to the UNTM unions are set 
by tripartite negotiations between the Ministry of Labor, labor 
unions, and representatives of the federation of employers of 
the sector for which the wages are being set.  These 
negotiations usually set the pattern for unions outside the 
UNTM.  The Ministry of Labor acts as a mediator in labor 

Neither the Constitution nor the Labor Code addresses the 
question of antiunion discrimination, but there have been no 
reports or complaints of antiunion behavior or activities.  If 
the parties cannot come to agreement, the dispute goes to the 
Labor Court for decision.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor.  
However, the Bela are traditional slaves of Maurs and Tuaregs 
in Northern Mali, and some de facto slavery probably still 
exists, especially in the extremely remote salt mining 
communities north of Timbuktu.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum legal age for employment is 14, but with parents' 
permission children may be apprenticed at age 12.  This 
regulation is often ignored in practice and has no effect on 
the vast number of children who work in rural areas, helping 
with family farms and herds, and in the informal sector, e.g., 
in street vending.  They are not protected by laws against 
unjust compensation, excessive hours, and capricious 
discharge.  The Labor Inspection Service of the Ministry of 
Labor is responsible for, and reasonably effective in, 
enforcement of child labor laws in the modern sector only. 

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Labor Code specifies conditions of employment, including 
hours, wages, and social security.  The national minimum wage 
rate is $70 per month (20,000 CFA francs) effective as of 
1991.  Workers paid on a daily basis receive a rate of $2.65 
(750 CFA francs).  Workers must be paid overtime for additional 
hours.  The minimum wage is supplemented by a required package 
of benefits, including social security and health care 
benefits.  While this total package could provide a minimum 
standard of living for one person, in practice most wage 
earners support large extended families and must supplement 
their income by some subsistence farming or work in the 
informal sector.

The normal legal workweek is 40 hours, with a requirement for 
at least one 24-hour rest period.

The Social Security Code provides a broad range of legal 
protection against hazards in the workplace, and workers' 
groups have brought pressure on employers to respect parts of 
the regulations, particularly those affecting personal 
hygiene.  With unemployment high, however, workers are often 
reluctant to report violations of occupational safety.  The 
Labor Inspection Service of the Ministry of Labor oversees 
these standards, but enforcement is limited to the modern, 
formal sector due to the lack of inspectors.  Workers have the 
right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations and 
request an investigation by the Social Security Department, 
which is responsible for recommending remedial action, where 
deemed necessary. 

[end of document]


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