Mali: Mission on Prisons and Conditions of Detention, 1997


The Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Detention conditions visited prisons in Bamako, Tombouctou, Goundam, Mopti, Baguineda and Kati in Mali from 20 to 30 August 1997.


The recommendations below have been made in the full knowledge that Mali is a poor country which has recently begun on the road of parliamentary democracy. Its limited resources will slow measures which require a lot of capital, but other problems facing prisons need to be and can be addressed immediately.

  1. Mopti prison requires urgent and early attention. Cells 1 and 2 where inmates are held 24 hours a day except when they go out for shower or toilet should have windows to let in light and air. This regime should be improved upon.
  2. Chaining of prisoners, especially those in cells should cease.
  3. Assault and battery of prisoners in Mopti prison should cease. An inquiry should be conducted into the conduct of the guards at Mopti in relation to their treatment of prisoners for the necessary action to be taken. Guards should be trained to avoid assaulting prisoners.
  4. Serious attention should be paid to the question of the many inmates who are on remand with a view to giving them early trial or releasing them. Fewer prisoners will free resources to he used in the many areas crying for attention in the penal system of Mali.
  5. Tombouctou, Goundam and Mopti prisons are in danger of caving in, and should receive urgent attention.
  6. Admittedly, the huge expanse of the country does not make transportation easy, but keeping female prisoners in private houses is not satisfactory.
  7. The new prisons under construction or yet to he built, should have separate sections for women and juveniles if separate structures cannot be built for them.
  8. Remand prisoners should be separated from convicts.
  9. Ways and means should be found to ease the tense atmosphere in what has been described as the first part or section of Bamako Central prison. The constant confinement of most of them may produce another disturbance.
  10. A guard should not be made to work 24 hours, seven days continuously as seems to be the rule in Mopti, Tombouctou and Goundam. The temptation to adopt ruthless methods to ensure discipline is high.
  11. Preferential treatment given to civil servants as was evidenced by their comfortable surroundings and privileges in Bamako Central Prison should be reviewed. There will be little or no incentive by civil servants to do what is in their power to improve the conditions of the ordinary prisoner knowing that neither he/she nor their kind will experience a harsh regime were they find themselves in prison. Equal treatment should also be respected in prison.
  12. For a similar reason, the policy of building air-conditioned prison for political detainees does not make for a setting where there will be eagerness on the part of political authorities to work hard at improving prison conditions. The undoubtedly enormous resources which will go into the construction of such a luxury prison could be used in improving the conditions of a few prisons.
  13. DNAPES should adopt guidelines which will enable it know what assistance each prison gets from non-budgetary resources. It will then be able to monitor the use to which the donation is put. This recommendation is made as a direct result of complaints from prisoners of how they do not receive all the donation, like blankets, which are made to them.
  14. Efforts should be made to supply prisoners with basic needs such as mats, blankets, soap and clothing.
  15. Reconsideration should be given to the issue of amnesty with a view to extending the category and number of those who have been benefiting from this exercise.
  16. Female guards should be trained to take over guard duties for women prisoners.
  17. NGOs should be encouraged to visit prisons and pass on their recommendations to government.
  18. The recommendations contained in the report of Mr. Sanidie A. Toure, the Deputy Director following his visit to Mopti and other prisons should be carefully studied and implemented.