Amnesty International says Malian forces are detaining children, who were recruited as soldiers by armed groups during a French - led war on the country, along with adults.
The rights organization said on a report released on Friday that during a four-week visit to the West African country, it spoke to nine child soldiers aged between 13 and 17, who were held along with adults at the prison in Camp I of the gendarmerie of Mali’s capital, Bamako. The organization said some of these children have complained of torture and ill-treatment. “They hung me up to the ceiling for 15 minutes and they threatened to give me electric shocks. They threatened to kill me,” one of the detainees the Amnesty. These children have been charged with offences that include undermining internal and external state security and acts of terrorism, the rights group said. Gaetan Mootoo, Mali Researcher at Amnesty International said, “Under international law, children should be detained separately from adults, and Malian law also prohibits detaining them with adults. He added that “the Malian authorities should give notice to the UNICEF (the UN Children's Fund) when arresting children suspected of association with armed groups so that their families can be identified and their cases handled by child protection professionals.” Amnesty further called on Malian authorities to secure the release of all children held by both Malian forces and armed groups. France launched a war in the resource-rich West African country in January 11,2013 under the pretext of halting the advance of rebel fighters in the country. The French-led war on Mali has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in the northern areas of the country and has displaced thousands of people, who now live in deplorable conditions. On February 1, Amnesty said “serious human rights breaches” -- including the killing of children -- were occurring in the French war in Mali. Some political analysts believe that Mali’s abandoned natural resources, including gold and uranium reserves, could be one of the reasons behind the French war.