Last July, in Bamako, a SlaFMig workshop brought together administrative and judicial authorities from the Kayes, Koulikoro and Ménaka regions to discuss the issue of descent-based slavery. The presentations and discussions were rich and led to several recommendations. These take into account the complexity and multiple dimensions of the phenomenon and recommend actions in the legislative, political, administrative, socio-economic and educational fields. The recommendations were compiled in a report submitted to the Malian Ministries of Justice and Territorial Administration.
The recommendations are as follows:
- On the legal and legislative level, the participants affirmed the need for the adoption of a specific law defining and criminalising slavery and similar practices in Mali. Such legislation is absolutely necessary if magistrates are to be able to act effectively in criminal matters in relation to descent-based slavery: as the laws stand at present, they can only condemn the offences and crimes that are associated with the practice.
- It is also recommended that a framework for consultation between the administrative and judicial authorities be created and that collaboration between CSOs and national structures in the fight against slavery in Mali be promoted.
- At the political level, the Malian State must firmly condemn all slavery-like practices.
- Increased promotion of human rights, citizenship and the fight against discrimination in Mali through national educational and awareness-raising programmes is also desirable.
- The State must commit itself to creating a National and Regional Observatory for the fight against slavery in Mali.
- The training of all actors is also crucial to eliminate the practice of slavery in facts. Specific training must be provided to public, local, religious and customary authorities throughout Mali; CSOs, court officers and paralegals must also be better trained and supported in the fight against descent-based slavery.
- Research-action for the eradication of descent-based slavery should also be promoted.
- In connection with the training component, education, information and awareness-raising on the issue of descent-based slavery within civil society, and the broadcasting of sketches and documentary films in the media on the aftermath of slavery in Mali are among the means to be favoured. During the workshop, a consensus emerged on the importance of combating descent-based slavery, particularly with a view to maintaining peace and stability in the Kayes region, which is still relatively untouched by the violent conflicts that are spreading in Mali. The fight against slavery cannot be waged solely through repression, but must be based on a profound change of mentality and the provision of socio-economic support to the victims of these practices.
- Reconciliation between victims of descent-based slavery and those considered locally ‘noble’ should be promoted by ensuring dialogue between communities, for example through mediation, in which the diaspora and diplomatic representations should be involved.
- On the material and socio-economic level, it is necessary to advocate psychological and financial support for the victims with the creation of a fund to assist the victims of slavery in Mali.
- Conditions must also be created for the independence of victims, in particular by promoting their access to land ownership.
- The return of victims to their respective localities is desirable, following the resolution of conflicts both through mediation and through legal channels if necessary.
During the workshop, a consensus emerged on the importance of combating descent-based slavery, particularly with a view to maintaining peace and stability in the Kayes region, which is still relatively untouched by the violent conflicts that are spreading in Mali. The fight against slavery cannot be waged solely through repression, but must be based on a profound change of mentality and the provision of socio-economic support to the victims of these practices.