Nuhanovic Foundation

Reparations Database

France’s Shadow War in Mali: Airstrikes at the Bounti Wedding, Report by Stoke White Investigations





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Under the pretext of the War on Terror France executed a drone-led airstrikes in central Mali, Bounti, on 3 January 2021. France claimed it had targeted members of an armed group, loosely connected with Al-Qaeda. The French military stated that the strike followed a surveillance mission by a French Reaper drone which showed a “suspicious gathering of people.” The gathering, however, was a wedding party and, according to a subsequent UN investigation, 19 civilians were killed. France dismissed the findings and fails to acknowledge any civilian casualties. This report by Stoke White Investigations (SWI) presents further insight on the contested civilian casualty allegation based on open-source intelligence and testimonies.

International law violations and reparations

The report outlines that the French military have a legal duty to investigate the civilian casualty allegations. However, according to the testimonies documented, no victims of this attack have been approached by France or the Mali government to date – suggesting that a post-strike investigation has not been initiated despite mounting evidence. The drone-led airstrikes have infringed international humanitarian law and human rights law and thus France is obligated to provide redress to the victims for the loss and injury caused. Moreover, the authors believe some European states and the United States (US) may be potential accomplices since they may have shared intelligence on target meta-data. This could trigger these states’ co-accountability for the Bounti killings.

Lack of Transparency

France’s Ministry of Armed Forces, United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) and the US Department of Defense refrained from answering SWI’s questions surrounding data-sharing, meta-data and/or any other cooperation between each other. Neither were specific questions on the Bounti wedding attack ever responded to. This absence of transparency hampers justice and reparations for those innocently affected.

Click here to read the full report.

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