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Mali has a constitutional Government headed by Prime Minister 
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.  In the country's first democratic 
elections in 1992, which were judged to be free and fair by 
international observers, citizens ratified a new Constitution 
and elected the National Assembly and President Alpha Oumar 
Konare as Head of State.  These elections completed a 14-month 
transition following the 1991 overthrow of the Moussa Traore 

Violent student demonstrations flared up in February against 
government restrictions on financial aid, the same issue that 
had forced the resignation of the Third Republic's first 
government in 1993.  However, the Government and the students 
largely resolved their differences, and the school year began 
normally.  In June Tuareg and Maur bandits and rebels in the 
North increased their attacks on civilian targets, leading to 
military, self-defense, and vigilante group reprisals; an 
estimated 300 people, mostly civilians, were killed.  Much of 
the Tuareg and Maur population fled to neighboring countries.

Security forces are composed of 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, as are the Gendarmerie and the Republican Guard.  The 
police are under the Ministry of Territorial Administration.  
There is a lack of discipline among the security forces' 
enlisted personnel, and elements of the security forces and 
vigilante groups committed extrajudicial killings and other 
human rights violations in Mali's northern regions during 
reprisal raids against Tuareg and Maur bandit groups.

Mali is a very poor country.  Its economy is based primarily on 
farming and animal husbandry, making it highly dependent on 
adequate rainfall for its economic well-being.  The Government 
continues to implement reforms aimed at modernizing the 
economy.  Nevertheless, Mali continues to be beset by economic 
problems, including a depressed economy, inadequate government 
revenues, dependence on international donors, demands from a 
number of vocal special interest groups, and a literacy rate of 
about 23 percent.

The Government generally respected constitutional provisions on 
freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association and religion.  
However, elements of the security forces committed an 
undetermined number of extrajudicial killings of Tuaregs and 
Maurs in June, July, and August.  The judicial system continues 
to be plagued by a large backlog of cases, which results in 
persons languishing in prison for long periods of time.  Social 
and cultural factors continued to sharply limit economic and 
educational opportunities for most women.  Societal violence 
against women, including spouse abuse and female genital 
mutilation, is widespread.


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.  A 
resurgence of Tuareg and Maur bandit/rebel attacks in Mali's 
northern regions in June, July, and August initiated a cycle of 
attacks and reprisals, leading to the deaths of as many as 300 
people, mostly civilians.  In reprisal actions, elements of the 
security forces were responsible for an undetermined number of 
these extrajudicial killings.  According to credible reports, 
armed groups of Tuaregs and Maurs and self-defense/vigilante 
groups, organized by the black sedentary populations, also 
committed extrajudicial killings.

On April 21, in a reprisal attack against Tuaregs and Maurs in 
Menaka, the military killed 4 people and wounded 12.  A 
military inquiry resulted only in the transfer of a number of 
military personnel to other camps, but there were no charges, 
trials, or convictions.  In June and July, security forces and 
self-defense/vigilante groups in the Timbuktu region killed as 
many as 50 Tuaregs and Maurs, including the director of the 
Islamic/Arabic Study and Documentation Center located in 

On July 25 rebels attacked the town of Bamba and killed an 
estimated 40 civilians.  Some reports placed the casualty 
figure over 100.  The 1992 National Pact ended the official 
insurrection in the north, but bandit attacks continued 
sporadically.  The Government and four major rebel groups still 
recognize the Pact, but do not implement its provisions.

On October 4, a four-person military patrol shot and killed the 
Swiss Cooperation Mission director and two Malian colleagues in 
the town of Niafunke, allegedly because the mission was aiding 
Tuareg rebels.  A government mission of inquiry into the 
killings determined that the patrol's actions were unwarranted 
and unjustified.  By year's end, the Government had not 
identified publicly the responsible parties, nor set in motion 
judicial proceedings.

On October 20, a large group of rebels attacked the town of 
Ansongo in the southeastern corner of Mali, killing 
approximately six persons, including the head of the military 
detachment and several civilians.  On October 22, Tuaregs and 
Maurs attacked civilian and other targets in the city of Gao, 
killing approximately 14 persons and wounding 17.  The 
Government condemned such acts by all parties but appeared to 
have little control over some security elements in the north.  
Although the National Pact calls for a Commission of Inquiry, 
the Government did nothing to create one.

     b.  Disappearance

There were credible but unconfirmed reports of disappearance, 
related to the escalation of violence in the north, which 
implicated elements of the security forces, Tuareg and Maur 
armed groups, and, possibly, self-defense groups organized by 
the black sedentary populations.  Despite government 
condemnation, authorities made no inquiries, no arrests, and no 

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

Prison conditions continue to be characterized by overcrowding, 
inadequate medical facilities, and limited food supplies.  
Several associations are working with women and juvenile 
prisoners to improve their conditions.  Juvenile offenders are 
usually held in the same prison as adult offenders.  Women are 
housed in the same prison facility as men but live in a 
separate compound.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution provides that suspects must be charged or 
released within 48 hours, and are entitled to counsel.  In 
practice, however, detainees are not always charged within the 
48-hour period.  Moreover, administrative backlogs and 
insufficient lawyers, judges, and courts often cause lengthy 
delays in bringing people to trial.  In extreme cases, 
individuals languish several years in prison before coming to 

Bail does not exist.  On rare occasions the authorities release 
defendants on their own recognizance.  The Government released 
18 former members of the overthrown Moussa Traore regime who 
faced charges of economic crimes against the State.  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 
the court sentenced the four to death in 1993.  Although the 
Supreme Court denied their subsequent appeal, the President 
could still commute their sentences.  Commandant Lamine 
Diabira, arrested by the Government in 1991 for plotting to 
overthrow the then-transitional Government, was finally 
released in July for lack of evidence.

The Government does not practice forced exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but the 
executive branch exerts considerable influence over the 
judicial system.  The Ministry of Justice appoints judges and 
supervises both law enforcement and judicial functions, and the 
President heads the Superior Judicial Council, which supervises 
judicial activity.  The Supreme Court has both judicial and 
administrative powers.  The Constitution provides for a 
separate Constitutional Court and a High Court of Justice with 
the power to try senior government officials in cases of 

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 
confront witnesses and to appeal decisions to the Supreme 
Court.  Court-appointed attorneys are provided for the indigent 
on a pro bono basis.  The majority of disputes in rural Mali 
are handled at the village level and are generally decided by 
the village chief in consultation with the elders.  If these 
decisions are challenged in court, only those found to have 
legal merit will be upheld.  Women and minorities are not 
discriminated against in courts.

There are no political prisoners in Mali.

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

The Constitution provides for the inviolability of the home, 
and the Government respects this right in practice.  Police 
searches are infrequent, and require judicial warrants. 
Security forces do, however, maintain physical surveillance of 
individuals and groups believed to be threats to internal 
security; with court approval, police may maintain technical 
surveillance as well.  There were no instances of forced 

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press.  
The Government controls the only television station, two of 
many radio stations, and one of the three daily newspapers, 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 Prime Minister, the Government, and other politicians.  
Apart from the two Government radio stations in Bamako and 
several government stations serving regional capitals, there 
are seven independent stations in Bamako and many other 
independent regional stations.  The Government has promulgated 
the decrees necessary for the operation of private television 
in Mali, and a number of frequencies have been set aside for 
this use.  All that remains is for the Government to set 
licensing fees and to distribute the frequencies.  Four or five 
groups are already licensed to begin broadcasting, and at least 
one is in the process of setting up its antenna tower.

There are nearly 50 independent newspapers and journals, in 
French and local languages, including two independent daily 
papers.  The Government does not interfere with political 
meetings, which take place openly.

Although 1993 laws regulating the press provide for substantial 
penalties, including imprisonment, for slander and for public 
injury to the Head of State, other officials, and foreign 
diplomats, the law leaves injury undefined and subject to 
judicial interpretation.

On November 23, the Government arrested Sambi Toure, the editor 
in chief of the antigovernment daily Nouvel Horizon, on charges 
of publishing false information which threatened national 
security and the integrity of the defense forces.  Mr. Toure 
was released after 10 days on his own recognizance and in a 
trial in late December was acquitted of all charges.

In a 1993 case in which the President of the Supreme Court sued 
a newspaper publisher for slander, the court found the 
publisher guilty but levied only a symbolic fine of 1 CFA franc.

Academic freedom is respected.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the rights of assembly and 
association.  The Government routinely grants permits for mass 
demonstrations.  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.  The Ministry of 
Territorial Administration approves the charter of all 
political parties.  The banned party of Moussa Traore, the 
Democratic Union of the Malian People (UDPM), operates openly, 
although it is still not officially recognized by the 

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Mali is a secular state.  The Government does not discriminate 
on religious grounds and citizens are free to practice their 
faiths.  Although legal restrictions on the Baha'i faith still 
exist, the Government does not enforce them and Baha'i worship 
freely.  The Constitution prohibits discrimination by reason of 
social origin, color, language, sex, religion, or race.    The 
Minister of Territorial Administration prohibits religious 
publications which it concludes defame another religion.  There 
were no known instances of publications being prohibited.

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

The Government generally does not restrict internal freedom of 
movement, although police routinely stop and check both 
citizens and foreigners, ostensibly to restrict the movement of 
contraband and to verify vehicle registrations.  Some police 
and gendarmes use the occasion to extort bribes.  The practice 
of the police accepting small gifts for overlooking 
infractions, real or imagined, is common and has a long 

There are approximately 13,000 Mauritanian Peuhl refugees 
settled in Mali.  The fighting in the north between government 
troops and Tuareg rebels has generated an estimated 100,000 to 
120,000 Tuareg and Maur refugees, most of whom fled to 
Mauritania, Algeria, and Burkina Faso.  Although Mali has 
signed repatriation accords with all three nations under the 
auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 
it has not implemented them.  The Government does not forcibly 
repatriate refugees.

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

Citizens have the right to change their government and did so 
for the first time in 1992, voting by secret ballot in 
elections which were generally free, fair, and broad-based, 
despite some irregularities.  In the elections, 21 political 
parties participated; 11 are represented in the National 
Assembly.  The President's party, the Association for Democracy 
in Mali, holds the majority.  Nomadic peoples are 
represented--including Fulani (the President of the Assembly) 
and Tuareg.  Tuaregs are, of course, also represented in 

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 the Prime Minister.

Women are underrepresented in politics.  Only 3 women hold 
seats in the 116-member National Assembly, and 2 Cabinet 
ministers are women.  A third woman, the Secretary for the 
Promotion of Women, holds ministerial rank.  There are no 
restrictions on voting, legal or otherwise, for women or 

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

There are three independent human rights organizations:  the 
Malian Association for Human Rights (AMDH), a smaller Malian 
League of Human Rights, and a recently established chapter of 
Amnesty International.  All operate openly and without 
interference from the Government.  AMDH criticized government 
policy toward student protests and treatment of students 
protesting (often violently) for larger scholarships.

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


The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on sex and 
provides for the basic rights of all persons.  The Government 
respects these rights in practice, but social and cultural 
factors give men a dominant role.  Women's access to jobs in 
the professions and government is limited, as are economic and 
educational opportunities.  The Government, the major employer, 
pays women the same as men for similar work.  Women often live 
under harsh conditions, especially in the rural areas, where 
they perform hard farm work and do most of the childrearing.  
Despite legislation giving women equal rights regarding 
property, traditional practice and ignorance of the law prevent 
women from taking full advantage of this reform.  There are 
numerous active women's groups that promote the rights of women 
and children, and the female head of the Commission for the 
Promotion of Women enjoys the rank of minister.  Women have 
very limited access to legal services.  They are particularly 
vulnerable in cases of divorce, child custody, and inheritance 
rights, as well as in general protection of civil rights.  
Violence against women, including wife beating, is tolerated 
and pervasive.


There is no constitutional or legal provision to protect the 
interests and rights of children, and no juvenile court 
system.  However, the Malian Social Services Department 
investigates and intervenes in cases of reported child abuse or 
neglect.  Only one in five children receives basic education.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), widely condemned by 
international health experts as damaging to both physical and 
psychological health, is still common, especially in rural 
areas, and is performed on girls at an early age.  According to 
an international expert, 75 percent of women have undergone 
this mutilation.  The Government has not proposed legislation 
prohibiting FGM.  It supports educational efforts to eliminate 
the practice through seminars and conferences and provides 
media access to proponents of its elimination.

     People with Disabilities

There is no specific legislation protecting the rights of the 
physically disabled or mentally handicapped, nor mandating 
accessibility.  The physically disabled are not discriminated 
against in access to employment, education, and other state 
services.  Given the high unemployment rate, 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.  An 
unofficial union of noncommissioned officers struck for 3 days; 
the Government took no punitive action taken against it or its 
members.  The police also formed a union, affiliated with the 
National Union of Malian Workers (UNTM) Confederation.  
Virtually all salaried employees are organized.  Workers have 
established independent unions for teachers, magistrates, 
health workers, and senior civil servants.  The UNTM has 
maintained its autonomy from the current Government.

The Constitution provides for the right to strike, although 
there are restrictions in some areas.  For example, civil 
service and workers in state-owned enterprises 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 prohibits retribution against 
strikers.  Most strikes have involved government employees, and 
the Government made no attempt to retaliate.  Unions 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.  The growth of 
independent unions has led to more direct bargaining between 
these unions and their employers.  Wages and salaries, however, 
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 to which the wages apply.  These negotiations 
usually set the pattern for unions outside the UNTM.  The 
Ministry of Labor acts as a mediator in labor disputes.

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, reports of de facto slavery persist, 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 children may 
work with parents' permission as apprentices at age 12.  This 
regulation is often ignored in practice.  Moreover, it 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., street vending.  These children are not protected 
by laws against unjust compensation, excessive hours, or 
capricious discharge.  The Labor Inspection Service of the 
Ministry of Labor is responsible for, and reasonably effective 
in, enforcement of child labor laws, but only in the modern 

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Labor Code specifies conditions of employment, including 
hours, wages, and social security, but in practice many 
employers either ignore or do not comply completely with the 
regulations.  The national minimum wage rate is approximately 
$40 per month (21,000 CFA francs).  Workers paid on a daily 
basis receive a rate of $1.80 (1,000 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 protections 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 limits 
enforcement to the modern, formal sector.  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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