UN Calls For Independent Probe Into Possible War Crimes By Wagner Group In Mali

United Nations (UN) experts on Tuesday called for an independent investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by military troops and personnel from Russian private military contractor the Wagner Group in Mali, reported The UN News. These include torture, rape, pillaging, arbitrary detentions, and enforced disappearances.

Previously, Mali’s ruling junta has said that Russian forces present in the West African country are not mercenaries but trainers that are helping local troops with equipment bought from Moscow.

The West African country claims that it hired fighters from Russia’s Wagner group in 2021 to help in the fight against active extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS, which are waging a decade-long insurgency that has now spread to several neighboring countries.

“Since 2021, the experts have received persistent and alarming accounts of horrific executions, mass graves, acts of torture, rape, and sexual violence, pillaging, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances perpetrated by Malian armed forces and their allies,” the UN experts said in a statement.

Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country had nothing to do with military contractors working in Mali. He added that Mali had the right to work with private Russian firms.

The UN statement mentioned the name of the Wagner Group, citing credible reports of the involvement of military personnel believed to belong to the group in a massacre of hundreds of people in March.

According to the survivors, white mercenaries suspected to be Russians took part in the massacre in Moura, a market town in central Mali. The incident led to an international uproar and prompted the UN to open an earlier investigation.

Mali’s army also denied any wrongdoing in Moura and said it killed 203 militants there during what it described as a military operation.

Notably, Wagner Group has grabbed international attention over its prominent role in the Russia-Ukraine war. Last week, the United States government designated Wagner as a transnational criminal organization responsible for widespread human rights abuses.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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