CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world is seriously concerned over a decision by the Mali government to ban organisations receiving funds from France. The ban is a total violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of association; and has a chilling effect on civil society organisations in Mali.
On 21 November 2022, the government of Mali took a decision to ban all organisations receiving funds, material, or technical support from France. This ban mainly affects organisations and groups providing emergency food aid, medical services, water supply and agricultural, as well as those involved in human rights and governance. The government of Mali is obliged to protect and promote the rights of its citizens including creating an enabling environment for civil society organisations to operate. All undue acts of intimidation, harassment, and restrictions on the right to freedom of association should be lifted in line with Mali’s international human rights obligations to enable civil society organisations (CSOs) to exercise their respective mandates.
“The banning of these organisations is a new low for human rights in a country that has continuously failed to respect fundamental freedoms, including freedom of association. This is intended to restrict organisations committed to defending human rights and providing much needed livelihood. Malian authorities should immediately reverse this decision and allow organisations to continue their work uninterrupted,” said Paul Mulindwa, CIVICUS’ Advocacy and Campaigns Lead for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Mali has been contending with violence from extremists groups since 2012, but also a serious political and humanitarian crisis. About 1,260,528 people are displaced by the conflict. Since May 2021 and a second coup d'état that consolidated their grip, coup leaders in Mali have gradually turned away from France, whose last soldier left the country in August 2022 after nine years of engagement against the extremists alongside the Malian army. The human rights situation in Mali continues to deteriorate, with extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and other killings, injuries, and kidnappings taking place. Human rights groups have reported an increase in enforced disappearances, illegal arrests or detentions, including prolonged detentions and violations of due process guarantees, acts of torture or other inhuman treatment, as well as numerous cases of massive and forced displacement of civilians, death threats and acts of intimidation, looting and destruction of property.
The banning of organisation receiving funds from France came only days after the French government announced it was suspending aid to Mali. However, France still planned to provide humanitarian aid through NGOs. Since 2013, France had been providing a total of 100 million euros each year in assistance.
The CIVICUS Monitor rates the space for civil society in Mali as repressed.
For more information, please contact:
Advocacy and Campaigns Lead – Sub-Saharan Africa