Updated information on Mali programme activities in 2022
Highlights from the reporting period
The TFV continued the implementation of the reparation programme in the Al Mahdi case and prepared for the assistance programme launch. With regards to the Al Mahdi reparations, the TFV issued new administrative eligibility decisions, as well as proceeded with notifications and payments for individuals reparations with a view to close the individual reparation process in January 2023. The collective reparations reached a turning point with the conclusion of the initial community consultations and technical studies necessary for the three facilities that constitute the collective reparations. The reporting period also saw the design of an Al Mahdi reparations performance framework and a strong emphasis on gender mainstreaming by conducting a comprehensive gender-diagnostic. The TFV prepared the launch of the assistance programme and finalised the contract negotiation with its new implementing partner.
In 2012, two major and connected events plunged the Mali into an unprecedented political, security and humanitarian crisis: in January, a rebellion erupted in the north of the country, which resulted in this region being occupied by armed groups; in March, a military junta, taking advantage of the weakened state of the central government following the rebellion in the north, carried out a coup d'état, ousting President Touré from power shortly before the presidential election, initially scheduled for 29 April 2012.
The occupation of the north of the country by armed groups was accompanied by numerous attacks on communities, and their cultural heritage. The tombs of Muslim saints were deliberately damaged in the city of Timbuktu; military bases were attacked in Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu; between 70 and 153 prisoners were allegedly executed in Aguelhok, and acts of pillaging and rape were also committed. Furthermore, cases of torture and forced disappearances were reported within the context of the military coup d'état.
Although the international military intervention launched in 2013 led to the liberation of the main towns in the north of the country, Mali has nevertheless experienced a deep crisis since then, which has intensified during recent years due to the expanded influence of the armed groups in the centre of the country and the attacks carried out in the capital. The proliferation of terrorist acts in the north and centre of the country and the attacks and actions targeted at representatives of the State, dignitaries and local communities resulted in an unprecedented level of insecurity.
Due to the State’s withdrawal from the areas captured during the conflict, the civilian populations are finding it difficult to access basic public services such as education and healthcare; together with the level of insecurity, this situation presents fertile ground for the establishment of terrorist groups. The Malian population experience resurgence in targeted killings, a resumption in hostilities between armed groups and violent inter-community conflicts, as well as acts of armed banditry and sexual violence. There are also arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as acts of torture and summary executions. Quantitative data illustrates well the growing negative impact of the conflict on the civilian population: for the 2021 year alone, the number of victims reached 1910 while a total of 1801 victims were registered for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 together.
After eight years of conflict and an approach mainly focused on security, the frustration of the population led to a Coup on 18 August 2020. While the media has mainly linked the Coup to the contestation of the legislative elections, it may in reality be more the consequence of the State’s incapacity to respond to the repeated crimes against the civil population: As an example, the attack of Ogossagou on 23 March 2019 resulting in the death of 160 civilians followed by the attack of 14 February 2020 against the same village became a strong symbol of the State’s powerlessness and triggered a massive mobilisation against the president and the government.
During the agreed 18 month political transition, a new coup was conducted on 24May 2021 by the same junta that led the one of August 2020. While the transitional government headed by a military officer – Colonel Assimi Goita - was supposed to hold elections in February 2022, its recent decision to extend the transitional period for 5 years sparked strong condemnation and sanctions from the ECOWAS on 9 January 2022. Sanctions were lifted on 3 July 2022.
In this particularly volatile context, the victim’s expectations for justice and reparation are central and need to be taken into consideration during and beyond the political transition. The victims are in a state of severe psychological stress as a result of numerous conflicts. Faced with the persisting situation, the victims expect the Malian Government to “be there” for them and to “shoulder their responsibilities”.
In view of the conditions within its territory since January 2012, the State of Mali referred the situation to the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”). The opening of investigations by the Office of the Prosecutor in January 2013 resulted in a first trial, of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, former chief of the Islamic police in Timbuktu, and his conviction for intentionally directing attacks in Timbuktu, Mali, between approximately 30 June 2012 and 10 July 2012, against buildings dedicated to religion and/or historical monuments.
A second case is currently pending before the Court against Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, also a former chief of the Islamic police in Timbuktu. In addition to the war crimes constituted by the attacks on the historical monuments and mausoleums, the Prosecutor has added charges for crimes against humanity, such as rape and sexual slavery, forced marriage, torture, other inhumane acts and acts causing serious harm and violations of dignity, including amputations, and gender-based persecutions. In September 2019, all of the charges were confirmed and Mr Al Hassan was thus committed to trial. The trial is ongoing.
At the national level, the fight against impunity is reflected in a small number of proceedings which have been initiated and resulted in no reparation for the victims. The victims, little satisfied by the results of the judicial proceedings that have taken place in Mali up to the present, are unanimous in calling for the reparations process to begin.
II. Background on reparations cases: Al Mahdi
Al Faqi Al Mahdi (ICC-01/12-01/15)
On 27 September 2016, Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi (member of Ansar Eddine, a movement associated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, head of the "Hisbah" until September 2012, and associated with the work of the Islamic Court of Timbuktu) was found guilty of the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu, Mali, in June and July 2012. Mr Al Mahdi took part in the destruction of nine mausoleums and the sacred door of the Sidi Yehia Mosque (“Protected Buildings”) in Timbuktu in the North of Mali, between 30 June 2012 and 11 July 2012. Nine of the Protected Buildings which came under attack in the Al Mahdi case were on the UNESCO World Heritage List due to their “outstanding universal value” due to the essential role they played in the spread of Islam in Africa, and because they bore witness to the Golden Age of the intellectual and spiritual capital of Timbuktu in the 16th Century. The Protected Buildings thus fall under the protective framework of the UNESCO 1972 World Heritage Convention.
Mr Al Mahdi was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment; the date for the completion of the sentence is set to 18 September 2022.
On 17 August 2017, the ICC issued a Reparations Order in which the moral and economic harm suffered by the descendants of the Saints, the community of Timbuktu, the population of Mali and the international community was recognised. The Court set the liability of Mr. Al Mahdi at € 2.7 million, and awarded individual and collective reparations ranging from compensation, symbolic measures, economic and psychological support to the rehabilitation of the Protected Buildings.
The Trust Fund consulted the community in Timbuktu, the Malian population and Government, as well as experts, and submitted its implementation plan on 2 November 2018. In accordance with the Reparations Order, this plan included the following proposals:
- To organise a solemn ceremony to proceed to the award the symbolic euro to the State of Mali and UNESCO (for the reparations of the harm suffered respectively by the Malian population and the international community);
- To implement seven collective reparations measures aimed at the Timbuktu community and organised in three facilities: 1) the Restoration of Cultural Heritage Facility (RCHF), 2) the Memorialisation Facility (MF) to respond to the moral harm caused to the community of Timbuktu , 3) the Economic Resilience Facility (ERF) to respond to the economic harm caused to the community of Timbuktu;
- To award the proposed amounts of compensation to individual victims (descendants of the saints, masons and guardians) as well as to validate a proposed methodology for the identification and verification of eligible victim beneficiaries.
III. Status of implementation of Al Mahdi reparations
Symbolic ceremony: A high-level ceremony was hosted in Bamako on 30 March 2021 by the TFV in collaboration with the Government of Mali, in the presence of His Excellency Mr Bah N’DAW, former President of the Transition and Head of State of Mali, Ms Fatou Bensouda, former ICC Prosecutor, Mr Xing Qu, Deputy General of UNESCO, and Ms Mama Koité Doumbia, former Chair of the TFV Board of Directors. At the event, the former Chair handed over the symbolic euros to the President of Mali, Mr Bah N’DAW, for moral harm suffered by the Malian people, and to UNESCO for moral harm suffered by the international community. The event strongly contributed to raise the importance of reparations and to acknowledge the different kinds of harm resulting from the war crime committed by Mr Al Mahdi.
The implementation of collective awards for economic and moral harm commenced in May 2021. Initial consultations with communities and technical studies were conducted in Timbuktu, which allowed the three TFV implementing partners to anchor the reparations at the local level.
For the Memorialisation Facility, five memorialisation committees and various sub-committees were established with the community of Timbuktu. These committees organised dialogue in the view of proposing ideas as to how best to memorialise the destruction of the mausoleums.
For the Economic Resilience Facility (ERF), the designated instrument to implement the collective economic awards for the benefit of the Timbuktu community, the Trust Fund conducted a configuration survey using a participative methodology. It allowed the Trust Fund to gather comprehensive and up-to-date socio-economic information critical to the success of the ERF, taking into consideration the relevant security, social, economic and political parameters as well as consulting with the different groups of the Timbuktu community. This process concluded in the reporting period and allowed the Trust Fund to has led to the formulation of detailed economic measures. The process – methodology and results- were shared with 40 national and international experts in the view of consolidating it. The methodology may be transferable to other programmes.
For the restoration of Cultural Heritage Facility, the Trust Fund’s partner, UNESCO, worked on the preparatory work for the operationalisation of the measures, including building the team and preparing all technical survey to be conducted before working on the buildings.
The Board of Directors of the Trust Fund issued 1350 decisions in total so far: 398 applicants received a negative decision, and 948 positive decisions were issued. In the reporting period, the Board of Directors adopted 71 decisions, all positive; 57 beneficiaries were paid in Q1, and 2 in Q2. The Chamber has set a deadline of 15 August 2022 for the submission of all applications, with a view to close the individual reparation process on 14 January 2023. The Trust Fund currently works at finalising the individual reparation process and ensuring all persons willing to request reparations and meeting the criteria are given a possibility to submit a claim.
Al Mahdi (individual awards)
Number of applications with positive decisions
Number of victims who received individual awards
Activities and results from the reporting period
In the first quarter of 2022, the film on the mausoleums made by Kaourou Magassa and produced with TFV support was screened at the first international film festival of Timbuktu, and several bilateral meetings with the implementing partners were conducted to monitor the progress of reparations and plan current activities.
Between April and June 2022, a contextual, sectorial, institutional, and programmatic gender diagnostic was completed under the guidance of a gender expert relevant to both reparations and the upcoming assistance programme in Mali; based on the data collected and analysis, a gender strategy is envisioned to ensure the TFV’s contribution to gender mainstreaming and social inclusion. In the same period, the TFV designed the Al Mahdi reparation performance framework to enable better monitoring of the performance of the programme.
On 21 June 2022, the Trust Fund co-organised a workshop with the implementing partner (CIDEAL) to present and consolidate the methodology used for the ERF as well as consolidate the measures of collective economic measures.
In the reporting period, the procurement process for the selection of a partner for the national campaign about reparations took place.
In addition, the Ministry of Culture established a steering committee to follow the progress of the restoration of cultural heritage facility.
The Trust Fund attended a high level seminar in Dakar on cooperation and complementarity organised by the ICC in May.
- Official launch of the collective reparation awards
- High level mission to Timbuktu
- Transition of implementing partner CIDEAL into a next contracting arrangement
- Development of a Gender strategy and budgeted action plan
- Contracting a company for the national campaign on reparation
IV. Assistance programme
Next to the implementation of reparations awards in Al Mahdi, the Trust Fund decided to start an assistance programme in Mali which aims at responding to the harm resulting from emblematic incidents, amounting to war crimes or crimes against humanity, from the regions of Mopti and Gao and the District of Bamako. The programme allows the Trust Fund to intervene, next to Timbuktu, in the areas most affected by the conflict from 2012.
After having done a comprehensive harm assessment and consultations, the Trust Fund designed an assistance programme complementary to the Malian reparation initiatives. In 2020, the Trust Fund launched a procurement process to select a partner to implement the assistance programme in Mali. The process was finalised at the end of 2021.
Activities & results from the reporting period
At the beginning of January 2022, the Trust Fund concluded a grant agreement with Affaires Mondiales Canada that provides the Trust Fund with the necessary financial support to start the assistance programme.
On 1 February 2022, the Trust Fund filed the Regulation 50 Notification to Pre-Trial Chamber I regarding the Mali assistance programme in the Gao and Mopti regions and Bamako District. On 22 February 2022, the Pre-Trial Chamber decided that the proposed activities do not appear per se to pre-determine any issue to be determined by the Court.
A consortium consisting of Mali-based non-governmental organisations has been selected as implementing partner. The Trust Fund has drafted, as well as negotiated with the Registry Legal Office and implementing partner, the contract; the final consolidated budget proposal is expected to be received soon. The contract can then be signed.
Between April and June of 2022, the Trust Fund designed the assistance performance framework.
- Negotiation of the budget with implementing partner
- Workshop in preparation of the launch of the assistance programme
- Contracting the new implementing partner for the assistance programme
- Launching the assistance programme
 Article 53(1) Report, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, 16 January 2013.
 Mali: Terrorism and Impunity Jeopardize the Fragile Peace Agreement’, Joint Position Paper, FIDH & AMDH, May 2017
 “La réparation des victimes de la crise malienne: une obligation et une nécessité” [“Providing Reparations to the Victims of the Crisis in Mali: an Obligation and a Necessity”], Report, Lawyers Without Borders Canada, p. 20