Rebuilding the Malian justice system is indispensable if peace, stability, and development are to be ensured. This second Hague Institute Policy Brief on the current situation in Mali aims to provide guidance to those in government and in the international community responsible for developing the policies and programs to rebuild the justice system. It does so on the basis of a scan, carried out in Mali during October 2013, of the most pressing problems that the population in central and northern Mali faces in terms of justice and human security. The scan consisted primarily of a series of more than 75 interviews with local leaders from central and northern Mali and is therefore substantially informed by views from below.

The brief argues that the absence of a functioning justice system contributed to the crisis of 2012 and early 2013 and that the problems to be addressed therefore go beyond the need to render justice in the case of crimes committed during the crisis. It concludes by issuing seven concrete recommendations for policy.

The French intervention brought an end to the occupation of the major cities in central and northern Mali. It did not, however, either defeat or neutralize the insurgents.

Dr. Marco Lankhorst, former Senior Researcher, Rule of Law Program

First, to end impunity, the justice and security sectors must be merged. Second, given the level of corruption in law enforcement and the diffi culties of addressing the problem, measures to prevent insecurity, crime, and violence should be prioritized. Third, a promising way to engage in prevention would be to experiment with community policing. Fourth, institutions involved in law enforcement must be given incentives to become considerably more responsive to the needs of the population in terms of security. Fifth, communicating the results of the work of law enforcement to concerned parties and the public is essential. Sixth, a better understanding of corruption in the justice system is critical. Last, intercommunity conflict needs to be addressed at a societal level through the media.

Marco Lankhorst is a former Senior Researcher with the Rule of Law Program at The Hague Institute for Global Justice. The research reported on here was conducted, in considerable part, in the context of an assignment by VNG-International.

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