Human Rights Watch explains its investigation methods – DW – 05/08/2024

Human Rights Watch explains its investigation methods – DW – 05/08/2024
Human Rights Watch explains its investigation methods – DW – 05/08/2024

On April 25, 2024, in a report made public, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the armed forces of Burkina Faso, battling armed jihadist groups, of having “executed at least 223 civilians” including at least 56 children during of two attacks in the north of the country.

For the NGO, “These mass massacres, among the worst abuses by the army in Burkina Faso since 2015, appear to be part of a widespread military campaign against civilians accused of collaborating with armed Islamist groups, and could constitute crimes against humanity .”

This Human Rights Watch report did not please the Ouagadougou authorities who had denounced “unfounded accusations.”

So question: How does an organization like Human Rights Watch conduct its investigations?

Contacted by DW, Ilaria Allegrozzi, researcher on the Sahel at HRW explains that, “we relay the testimonies we have collected. We carry out field investigations. We speak with victims and witnesses. We review documentary evidence, photos, videos and satellite images. We used satellite images of Burkina and Mali. It’s a combination of tools.”

Click on the image to listen to Ilaria Allegrozzi.

“Our research methodology is rigorous”, Ilaria Allegrozzi (Researcher at HRW)

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For relaying the HRW report, the BBC, Voice of America and TV5 Monde were suspended for two weeks in Burkina Faso.

The communications authority also decided to suspend access to several websites including that of Deutsche Welle.

Crimes in Mali too

An armed Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda has killed at least 32 civilians, including 3 children, and burned more than 350 houses in central Mali, in the Mopti region. Human Rights Watch says this in a report published this Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

The events took place last January according to the human rights NGO.

Human Rights Watch says it documented two attacks carried out by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) against the villages of Ogota and Ouémbé, in the Mopti region, on January 27, and two attacks carried out by Dozo militias against the villages of Kalala and Boura, in the Ségou region, at the beginning of January.

These attacks took place against the backdrop of a cycle of retaliatory killings and communal violence in central Mali.

For HRW, Mali’s transitional military authorities should urgently investigate these abuses, prosecute those responsible fairly and better protect all civilians in danger.

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