Mali Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Abbreviated as MLI by Abbreviationfinder, Mali has had free elections and a functioning multi-party system since 1992. But a coup in 2012, and subsequent conflicts with Tuaregic separatists and Islamist terrorists, has weakened both democracy and respect for human rights.

Freedom of assembly and association is generally respected. Permission is required to demonstrate. There are plenty of NGOs working on issues such as the environment, women’s rights and children’s rights. The law states that civil society should participate in certain political processes, among other things, they should be consulted in connection with legislation. Lack of capacity in the organizational world means that this does not always work.

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According to a law, 30 percent of the candidates in elections must be women, as well as in the appointment of public posts. This law is not always complied with, for example in connection with municipal elections.

Corruption is illegal but still prevalent in the judiciary and elsewhere in the state administration, not least in the form of bribery. There are reports that police are threatening individuals to get money. In 2019, Transparency International placed Mali as country 130 in its index of corruption in 180 countries (see the full list here). This was a deterioration of ten positions compared to 2018. Prior to that, according to the organization, corruption in Mali had remained at about the same level since the 2012 coup.

Freedom of expression and media

Mali was long regarded as one of the countries in Africa where freedom of the press was respected most. However, during the 2012 coup year, a large number of journalists were arrested and many were subjected to abuse and torture by both security forces and militant Islamists.

The government has been accused of trying to prevent reporting of abuse in troubled northern Mali, which has largely been cut off from the outside world.

In general, the media is otherwise free to criticize the government and other holders of power, and differing opinions appear in the public debate. There is an advocacy law that can restrict journalists’ freedom, but it is rarely used.

In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2020, Mali was ranked 108 out of 180 countries (see full list here). According to the organization, freedom of the press in the country deteriorated between 2012 and 2016 but has since gradually improved.

Judicial system and legal security

The judicial system should have an independent position vis-à-vis the state, but the Ministry of Justice appoints and dismisses judges. There have been reports of undue pressure from holders of power. There is a large shortage of trained lawyers.

Legal security is quite high, but corruption and lengthy legal processes create problems. In northern and central Mali, courts and other law enforcement institutions are often absent.

In Mali, human rights have been respected relatively well, but the deteriorating security situation from 2012 has brought with it an increased number of reports of abuses against civilians, with arbitrary arrests and torture even in the south. In the north, Islamist groups have committed brutal assaults, including rapes, mutilations and civilian murders.

The conditions in the prisons are reported to be poor, and the detention times are often long, sometimes several years. The death penalty is punished for, among other things, high treason, espionage and murder, but no execution has taken place for many years.

Mali has a national plan for strengthening human rights. A department sorting under the Ministry of Justice is responsible for realizing this.



Attacks against Westerners

Two French geologists are removed from his hotel in the town of Hombori by unknown perpetrators. This is the first time a kidnapping of Westerners is taking place south of the Niger River. Later, two German tourists are killed, and one Swedish and one Dutch are kidnapped in Timbuktu by Aqim.


Parliament votes for constitutional amendments

A large majority (143 yes votes and 3 no votes) accepts President Touré’s draft constitutional amendments, which must now be approved even in a referendum. The most important changes in the proposal are that Parliament should have a second chamber (Senate) and that the power of the president be strengthened at the expense of the prime minister, but that the opportunities to call the presidential office at the same time are expanded.


Adéma appoints presidential candidate

In accordance with the Constitution, Touré may not run for re-election. The party appoints the party leader and parliamentary Speaker Dioncounda Traoré as its candidate. The Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) ​​elects Soumaila Cissé, who is also supported by the country’s highest Muslim council. Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is preparing for Mali Collection (RPM).

Female Prime Minister

Head of Government Modibo Sidibé is replaced by Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé, who was previously Minister and President’s Adviser. Thus, Mali gets a female prime minister for the first time. No reason is stated for the change.


Explosion against the Embassy of France

Two people are injured in an attack on France’s embassy in Bamako. A Tunisian man suspected of belonging to Aqim is arrested for the act.