Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations to pressure Mali in weekend talks to investigate summary executions and disappearances allegedly carried out by the military in the conflict-torn African country.
Security Council delegates led by the UN ambassadors from the US, France, and Niger arrived on Saturday for two days of talks to push the military-led interim government for a return to democracy after two coups in nine months.
The delegation adds to international pressure on coup leaders to abide by a February 27 deadline set by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for a presidential election — a deadline that the regime is openly suggesting might be missed.
The UN mission should also use its visit to press Malian authorities to "investigate a spate of alleged summary executions, enforced disappearances, and incommunicado detentions by government security forces", Human Right Watch said in a statement on Friday night.
It said that since September, at least 14 men last seen in the custody of security forces, had disappeared or remain in "incommunicado detention".
The bodies of three men allegedly executed after their arrest by solders earlier this month were found nearby an army camp, it said.
"Mali's transitional government shouldn't be standing back while its soldiers are linked to a wave of abuses," HRW Sahel director Corine Dufka said in the statement.
The army earlier this month said it had investigated images published online that purported to show torture and the bodies of victims, and that those involved had been sanctioned and "placed at the disposal of the gendarmerie".
The military however refuted accusations that it was complicit in summary executions.
The 15-strong UN delegation, including representatives of China, India, and Russia, will meet with Malian authorities, civil society representatives and armed groups that signed a 2015 peace agreement, the official program shows.
Despite that accord, the poor and landlocked nation that is home to at least 20 ethnic groups has been racked by jihadist and intercommunal violence, as well as coups in August 2020 and May this year.
Military intervention by France and the UN has failed to quell an Islamist insurgency that has swept into central Mali and spilled over into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, leaving thousands dead and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.
After Mali, the delegation will travel to neighbouring Niger on Sunday.
A Malian junta delegation led by Minister of National Reconciliation Colonel Ismael Wague met on Friday and Saturday in Algiers with leaders of armed groups, Algerian mediators said in a statement, without naming the groups.