France calls for international observers in Mali
PARIS (Reuters) - France favors a quick deployment of international monitors to Mali to ensure that human rights are not abused, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Tuesday.
French and Malian troops over the past two weeks have driven Islamist insurgents out of some areas of north Mali they occupied last year. The Islamists imposed severe sharia (Islamic law) in areas they seized, authorizing stoning for adulterers and amputations for thieves while forcing women to don veils.
Malian troops have also been accused by international human rights groups of carrying out revenge killings of suspected Islamist rebels and sympathizers. There have also been cases of looting and attacks by civilians against such individuals and their properties in the liberated cities of Gao and Timbuktu.
"The French government is ... in favor of rapidly deploying international observers to ensure that human rights are respected (in Mali)," Ayrault said in a speech to parliament.
"Our troops have been told to show extreme caution in responding to acts of violence. I point out though that the International Committee of the Red Cross has not so far confirmed acts that have been reported on this subject by some non-governmental organizations," he added.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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