Minister challenged to explain Irish involvement in training Malian Armed Forces accused of war crimes
Speaking today in the Dáil during Questions to the Minister for Defence, Sinn Féin Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh challenged Government Minister Paul Keogh on the role Irish Defence forces are playing in Mali.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh asked why Irish soldiers serving with an EU Training Mission (EUTM) were mentoring and training the Malian Armed Forces when that same army inflicted serious human rights’ abuses during the civil war that has ravaged that country from 2012.
“During a recent visit to Mali, Minister Keogh said that Irish troops serving in the EUTM were playing a part in the reconstruction of the Malian Armed Forces.
“What he failed to mention was that during the recent civil war the Malian military inflicted serious human rights abuses on combatants and civilians alike. This was highlighted in a 2014 report by Office of the High-Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that documented serious human rights violations of civilians, including summary and extra-judicial executions, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including incidents of rape, arbitrary arrests and detentions.
“The deployment of Irish troops on EUTM missions in Mali cannot be considered a UN peacekeeping mission and it is very worrying that the Minister fails to understand that our involvement in Mali likely contravenes our State’s neutrality.
“It is unacceptable and wrong that Irish troops are participating in an EU operation designed to stabilise the Malian Government which has been complicit in war crimes that have been carried out with impunity in recent years.”