Mama Koite Doumbia is the president of the Malian Coalition for the ICC (MC-ICC). We sat down with her recently to discuss the situation in Mali and the work of the MC-ICC. This interview has been translated from the original French.
Could you describe the Malian Coalition for the International Criminal Court and its activities?
“The Malian Coalition for the ICC (MC-ICC) promotes the universal ratification of the Rome Statute and works to ensure that the ICC is fair, effective and independent.
On the one hand, we advocate with national authorities for the adoption and implementation of legislation facilitating the Court’s activities in Mali, and on the other hand we raise awareness about the Court’s mandate among the general public.
In order to fulfill this mandate, the MC-ICC works in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders: national and international human rights organizations, public institutions, the media as well as the general public.”
What is the current security situation in Mali?
“After going through a serious crisis in 2012, Mali is a country seeking peace and national reconciliation. However, armed groups still refuse to liberate the north of the country, especially the city of Kidal. They are still active in the Gao region, where they keep targeting civilians and infrastructures.”
How great is demand for justice?
“Justice in Mali is necessary to safeguard rights and to build a lasting peace. There can be no peace without justice and no development without peace.”
Is there much awareness about the ICC? How is its investigation received?
“Since the Malian authorities referred the situation on their territory to the ICC in July 2012, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) carried out an investigation and produced a report; it now needs to identify those most responsible for committing grave crimes and ask the ICC judges to issue arrest warrants against them.
Meanwhile, the Malian parliament should adopt legislation allowing national courts to try crimes under the Rome Statute.”
What is civil society doing to promote justice?
“Since the crisis, NGOs have been calling for justice during demonstrations and by issuing numerous declarations.
They have also identified the victims and witnesses with a view to facilitate the work of the judges, who slowly resume their activity in the localities in the north of the country. However, given the scale of the destruction, it will take time before the reconstruction is advanced enough for trials to take place.”
What do you say to those accusing the ICC of Africa bias?
“The African leaders who ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC must comply with it. They can’t choose to uphold the provisions which suit them while disregarding those going against their interests.
Those who fear the ICC probably have a guilty conscience. What we want is a Court that is fair.”
Has sexual and gender-based violence been an issue?
“Women were the first victims of the crisis in Mali. Sexual and gender-based violence is a real issue in Mali, with women being raped, deprived from their freedom or used as sex slaves.
International and regional treaties and conventions, and more particularly Resolution 1325 of the UN Security Council on women’s rights, peace and security, are not fully upheld in Mali.
Still today women are under-represented within the government, they don’t benefit from reconstruction programs and socio-cultural stereotypes still hamper women’s empowerment.”