Mali: Significant step towards the legal recognition and protection of human rights defenders

03.06.2016

Mali has moved a significant step closer to becoming just the second country in Africa to adopt a specific law on the protection of human rights defenders after the Minister for Justice and Human Rights pledged to forward a draft law prepared by civil society to the National Assembly for debate and adoption.

(Bamako, Mali) – Mali has moved a significant step closer to becoming just the second country in Africa to adopt a specific law on the protection of human rights defenders after the Minister for Justice and Human Rights pledged to forward a draft law prepared by civil society to the National Assembly for debate and adoption.

The draft law was discussed and finalised at a two-day workshop co-hosted by ISHR and the Coalition Malienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (COMADDH) in Bamako, Mali. Accepting the draft law on behalf of government, Mali’s Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Mrs Aminata Malle Sanogo, said ‘a Human Rights Defender Law would contribute to improving the overall environment in which defenders operate in Mali’.

In his opening speech to the workshop, Mahamar EL Moctar, the chairperson of COMADDH underscored the importance of Mali adopting a human rights defender protection law, saying ‘such legislation will help strengthen the protection and recognition of human right defenders at a time of extreme vulnerability for civil society actors in Mali given the crisis’.

COMADDH has been working to promote the adoption of such a law since 2010, while ISHR has been involved in global consultations and research to develop an authoritative model national law on the protection of human rights defenders for the last three years.

Clement Voule, ISHR’s African advocacy director, emphasised that ‘the law ultimately adopted by Mali’s National Assembly must comply with international legal standards’.

The draft law proposed by civil society identifies the rights of defenders and the responsibility to defend human rights; the State’s obligations towards defenders; applicable sanctions and remedies for breaches of rights and obligations; and provisions for the establishment of a monitoring mechanism.

COMADDH Chair Mahamar El Moctar hailed the government’s commitment stating, ‘today is an important day for Malian defenders. A significant first step towards the legal recognition and protection of our rights has been taken’.

‘By receiving this draft bill, the government of Mali is setting an example alongside a growing list of West African countries who are in the process or have adopted human rights defenders protection laws,’ said Clément Voule. ‘It is imperative that the adoption of such laws is now followed up with high-level political support and adequate resources for effective implementation on the ground’.

Contact: Clément Voule, Director of African Advocacy, ISHR, on c.voule@ishr.ch

Category:

Region
  • Africa
Topic
  • Human rights defenders
Mechanism
  • National HRDs laws/policies
Country
  • Mali