Detention & Guantanamo

Detention, Prosecution, and Interrogation in Mali

By Robert Chesney
Thursday, February 7, 2013, 7:58 PM

I asked the other day what was becoming of the persons who presumably were being captured by French, Malian, or other forces fighting the Islamist extremists in Mali.  Turns out there are a couple of answers. This report provides the following answer as to those captured by the Malian army:

"The Malian army took some prisoners, not many, who will have to answer to Malian courts and to international justice," he said, adding that "some" of those detained were high-ranking militants.

My bet is that there will be only domestic criminal prosecutions there in Mali, about which we will hear very, very little, and which as the quote suggests won't be numerous in any event.    Ah, but not all the detainees are in the hands of the Malian authorities, it turns out.  No, France has not lost its mind and begun its own detention operations; that would be crazy, I suppose.  And I'm not talking about the coalition of other African governments either.  At least not the recognized ones.  The report adds this gem:

A Tuareg group formerly allied with the Islamists, the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA), meanwhile said it had retaken Menaka, a town previously claimed by French-led forces.  ...The MNLA -- which was fighting for an independent state alongside the Islamists but then fell out with the extremists -- earlier said it was working with France against "terrorists" in the region. "In the framework of anti-terrorist coordination put in place with French forces", the MNLA will provide intelligence on "top terrorist officials" they have arrested, a spokesman said in Burkina Faso.

Not sure whether to think of the MNLA's arrests as leading to detention without criminal charge or to prosecution (is the MNLA going to have some sort of rump proceeding?).  But it is clear that there will be interrogation, with the fruits being passed on to France.  All of this runs very much with the grain of larger trends in how the United States is calibrating its response to terrorism these days.