Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, February 26, 2013)


Israel – Palestinian Territories
Mali – MNLA
Mali – Human rights

Israel – Palestinian Territories

Can you give a comment on current events in the West Bank and on the death of a Palestinian prisoner which led to this tension?

We are extremely concerned by the increase in tensions over the last few days in the West Bank, which intensified following the death of a young Palestinian who was being held in detention.

We call for a return to calm and for restraint in order to avoid an escalation that would be in no one's interests.

In this context, it is even more critical to swiftly resolve the issue relating to Palestinian prisoners who are subject to a system of administrative detention in Israel and the prisoners on hunger strike whose health has deteriorated in the last few days. Furthermore, we made a statement to that effect last weekend.

It’s important to avoid anything that might jeopardize a resumption of the peace process and the so-called two-state solution, which remains our ultimate goal, one that is shared by the entire international community.   

I asked for a comment regarding the death of this Palestinian prisoner.

We want full light to be shed on the circumstances surrounding the death in detention of this young Palestinian.

Do you regret this death, do you deplore this death? Do you have any response? You demand that full light be shed on this death - as everyone does - but it’s a serious event which requires a strong reaction from France, especially given that several sources are claiming that this prisoner died under torture.

We don’t react based on press reports or articles. I repeat that full light must be shed on the circumstances of this death. An investigation must be carried out; conclusions must be drawn and based on that we will give a response, in addition to what I’ve just said. I note that we’re not the only ones to have adopted this position; the UN made statements to that effect this morning.

When you say “we have to swiftly resolve the issue relating to the prisoners,” what do you mean?

Please refer to the statement issued a few days ago; it was very clear, notably in the specific case of the prisoners on hunger strike and the prisoners in administrative detention.


Mali – MNLA

Is the Quai d’Orsay in contact with the MNLA entities that have appeared in France?

As far as I know, the most recent contacts that we had with the MNLA in France was in November 2012. At that time, an MNLA delegation was received, at its request, at the Quai d’Orsay.

And on the ground in Mali, are there still any coordination efforts between the French and the MNLA in the Kidal region?

Please refer to the Ministry of Defense for all operational aspects.

On the political front, we had the opportunity to say this already but I’ll say it again in order to be very clear; the national reconciliation process is an inter-Malian process, i.e. decided upon and implemented by the Malians themselves. Moreover, they have made decisions that seem to be in the right direction, with the adoption of a road map and the establishment of a national reconciliation commission.

Within the framework of this commission and subject to the criteria and conditions set forth in the Security Council resolutions, a dialogue between the south and north of Mali - with representatives from all communities in the north - must be held. This dialogue should be as inclusive as possible, in accordance with the two conditions laid down in resolution 20854: the renunciation of violence and the recognition of Mali’s territorial integrity. Once a group – whichever one it may be - complies with these two conditions, then in our view – but the primary responsibility lies with the Malians – it has a legitimate right to participate in this process.


Mali – Human rights

Recently there have been strong allegations that abuses against Arabs in northern Mali have been committed. What’s happening with respect to the abuses? Does the French government recognize that abuses have taken place? How many? Can you give an update? Numerous reports about atrocities are circulating.

Obviously, we take the reports relating to possible abuses – notably issued by the press or by NGOs present on the ground – very seriously.

It’s important to distinguish two phases. First of all there’s the phase involving the denunciation of a crime, and it’s the role of the journalists and the NGOs present on the ground to denounce a particular act that they may have witnessed. There’s also a longer phase, the investigation phase. Indeed, it’s longer to the extent that, in the face of such serious crimes that may be classified as war crimes, investigations must be conducted and evidence provided.

From this standpoint, our basic position is extremely clear: no form of impunity can be tolerated. This is the message that we’ve conveyed to the Malian authorities. If these abuses are proven, the perpetrators must be prosecuted and convicted. Our troops on the ground have been instructed to provide the Malian authorities – who bear the primary responsibility for ensuring respect for human rights and protecting the civilian populations – with any evidence that they may have.

Similarly, France supported, continues to support and will support, the action of the International Criminal Court, which has jurisdiction over any war crimes committed in Mali since January 2012. In the same way, it was France that insisted that specific provisions be included in resolution 2085 to allow the deployment of human rights observers in Mali. Furthermore, we said that we wanted more observers to be deployed and that we were ready to lend assistance to this deployment. In the same way, with respect to the training that the EU mission will provide to the Malian armed forces, France called for training on the law of war, the law of armed conflict and human rights.