Mali's legacy of stability was upended by a military coup in 2012. Nomadic and al-Qaida fighters claimed authority over northern Mali last year, and French forces intervened in January at the government's request.
Aid groups this year reported a rising number of child soldiers fighting among rebel ranks.
Bakary Traore, director of Mali's welfare department, told the United Nations' Integrated Regional Information Networks child soldiers are a new problem for Mali.
"Mali had never experienced the phenomenon of child soldiers," Traore said in an interview published Friday.
The government in July signed an agreement with the United Nations to release child soldiers.
Four child soldiers in a shelter in Bamako, however, are on trial for threatening the state.
"Because they were found in the battlefield with weapons, the judges immediately considered them criminals," Traore said. "Instead of treating them as victims, they were taken to be criminals."
Ukrainian protestors topple Lenin statue [VIDEO]
Reindeer recovered after escaping from Santa during lighting ceremony