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Rights group sees abuse signs in Mali

April 11, 2013 at 10:15 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 11 (UPI) -- Malian soldiers are suspected of mistreating two ethnic Tuareg men who died at a detention center in Bamako, Human Rights Watch said.

The Malian government in January called for military assistance from former colonial power France. Control over the north of the country was lost to ethnic Tuareg fighters and al-Qaida militants following a coup in early 2012.

Human Rights Watch said two Tuareg men who were arrested in February died following abuses doled out by Malian forces and substandard detention conditions.

West Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch Corinne Dufka said in a statement from nearby Kenya that Mali's failure to investigate reports of revenge tactics was made worse by the death of the prisoners.

"The government needs to take concrete action to improve both treatment and conditions for all its detainees," she said.

Members of the international community are pondering the next steps for Mali as French forces wrap up their mission there. U.N. special envoy for the Sahel Romano Prodi told the EU's Foreign Affairs committee that an expectation that Mali could hold an election by July was ambitious given the security situation and the number of internally displaced people.

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