In late August, Amnesty International reported that Malian children were being held in jails alongside adults.
The detainees were believed to be under the age of 18 and arrested after being accused of belonging to militias and participating in activities of unrest.
Ages of the children were not questioned—although one child’s birth certificate verified he was merely 16—as they were placed in the adult section of the capital’s prison and police camp, which Amnesty reported were “sub-human.”
Along with the charge of international law violations, Amnesty said the children were, “subjected to various forms of human rights violations whilst in detention, including being constantly confined to their cells and not being allowed outside their prison cells to go for exercise.”
In addition to the horrific conditions listed, not only were these four children imprisoned with adults, Amnesty reported that the Malian authorities violated international law; the children were not allowed access to lawyers or their families.
While the four children mentioned were eventually released, Amnesty said Mali has continued to arrest children believed to be involved in militias.
The arrests of child soldiers and the surge of militias has been seen in Northern Mali since the military coup d’etat. The region was first controlled by separatists and then later by extremists linked to al- Qaeda.
Intervention by the French drove out the extremists but their hand in conflict can still be seen today.
– Kori Withers