Winnipeg, May 14, 2018 - Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC) is pleased to welcome to Canada Mr. Ousmane Sidibé, President of the Malian Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), and four other commissioners of the TJRC, on a capacity-building mission. The objective of the visit is to reinforce the capacities of the TJRC with respect to the acquisition, preservation, and protection of witness statements and archives on the grave human rights violations committed in Mali since 1960.
This mission, which will last from May 14 to 24, is an activity that is taking place in the framework of LWBC’s project to reinforce the TJRC. It is based on a recognition of the value of international cooperation and the exchange of experience and expertise between institutions and organizations of different countries. The Malian delegation will have the opportunity to participate in working sessions at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg (NCTR), and at the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic at the University of Laval in Québec City.
These sessions, organized at the request of the TJRC, will increase the capacity of the Commission to continue its work to establish the causes and consequences of the armed conflict in Mali, to document the crimes committed, and to listen to and carry the voice of victims. While in Winnipeg, the commissioners will have the chance to learn from the Honourable Murray Sinclair, whose leadership as the Chair of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is widely respected.
Capacity-building for the benefit of victims of grave human rights violations
As confirmed by a major victims’ consultation carried out in 2017 by LWBC and its Malian partners, a wide range of grave human rights violations have been committed in Mali. In this consultation, 3755 victims recounted violence they had endured themselves or that had been committed against members of their families or community. The atrocities alleged include murders, massacres, acts of torture, sexual violence, the destruction and pillage of property, kidnappings, and disappearances.
Victims in Bamako, February 2018. © Aly Gatta
Given the widespread and grave nature of the violence, the TJRC has a challenging mandate to fulfill. It can greatly benefit from logistical, technical, and organizational assistance. That is what this mission aims to provide.
The Malian delegation will learn about the experience of Canada’s TRC, which is recognized globally for its clarification of the history, context, and legacy of the Indian Residential School system that operated in Canada for over a hundred years, until 1996. The TRC was created through the 2008 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and concluded its activities in 2015. The NCTR was established to provide a permanent home for the declarations and documents on residential schools collected, and to continue the TRC’s important work of promoting truth and reconciliation.
Lawyers Without Borders Canada is a non-governmental organization that has the mission of contributing to the implementation of the human rights of people in situations of vulnerability internationally. Through its project to reinforce the Malian TJRC, financed by Global Affairs Canada, LWBC contributes to giving a voice to victims, and to the restoration of peace, justice, and security in Mali.