After two years of investigation, the UN report comes at a critical moment for a country still reeling from a coup earlier this year.
A UN report looking at violence in Mali has found evidence that the Malian army committed war crimes as they were battling armed insurgents who are also accused of committing crimes against humanity.
Created in January 2018 as part of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation between rebels and the government in Mali which was signed in 2015 ending years of fighting. The report's findings come at a time when Mali is still reeling from a coup earlier this year.
At over 300 pages, the report, which has not been released to the public, but was seen by the AFP and the UN Security Council reveals serious human rights abuses during the 2012-2018 period.
The authors of the report recommend that a war crimes tribunal be set to handle the findings and bring to justice those suspected of crimes.
"The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that the Malian defence and security forces committed war crimes, including violence to the life and person of civilians and persons hors de combat suspected of being affiliated or cooperating with extremist armed groups," says the report, acquired by AFP on Tuesday.
The probe also found that “extremist armed groups committed crimes against humanity and war crimes."
Pape Diallo, an activist in Mali has criticised the report suggesting that during the period in question, the security of the country was led by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
At its height, the forces numbered at 15,000 in addition to more than 4,000 French troops which were deployed as part of Paris-led Operation Barkhane.
“The Malian authorities have spared no effort against all forms of revenge against civilians in its territory,” said Diallo speaking to TRT World.
“I personally think that this accusation fits in with a (French) policy of invasion,” added Diallo.
Diallo was hopeful that the report, once it's finally released, will shed light on France’s role in the conflict which has in the past inflicted deaths on civilians and soldiers in Mali in circumstances that remain open to debate.
“It is important to investigate all the war crimes among which we have the massacre of our eleven soldiers by the French army on the night of October 23 to 24, 2017 at the Algerian border,” added Diallo.
If France is not also investigated, warned Diallo it would raise “questions of double standards that have come together to highlight the very dubious intentions of the international community in the management and final resolution of the crisis in Mali.”
The charge of war crimes levelled at the Malian army is defined by the UN as actions “committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.”
Whereas the charge of crimes against humanity directed are acts “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.”
The charge of war crimes could see members of the Malian military indicted in an international tribunal.
A recent coup of Malian military officers removing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from power was cautiously welcomed by many demonstrators in Mali.
The Malian military is still a popular force in the country and in recent years there has been growing resentment at the continued presence of international forces, particularly against the French troops, whose presence many decry as an 'occupation'.”
The findings of the UN report come at a particularly sensitive time in Mali which is still facing bouts of instability. Analysts have warned that the 2015 peace agreement is yet to be fully implemented, reversing peace measures in the country.