International Criminal Court (ICC)

MALI: ICC conviction of Al Hassan for war crimes and crimes against humanity provides a measure of justice for victims

Reacting to the decision of the Trial Chamber X of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to convict Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz for some of the war crimes and crimes against humanity he was accused of having committed in Timbuktu, Mali, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said:

“This judgment is a rightful vindication for many victims of the take-over of Timbuktu by Ansar Dine, which the Chamber found was followed by torture and other cruel treatment, including public floggings of the population.

“However, countless girls and women left tormented by rape, sexual slavery and other conflict-related sexual violence at the hands of the Islamic Police will feel severe disappointment. The Chamber confirmed that these crimes had taken place, but not that Al Hassan carried criminal responsibility for them. The Al Hassan case was also the first case where persecution on the grounds of gender was litigated at the ICC. For the victims of these crimes, it is essential that we redouble our efforts to bring them justice, as yesterday’s verdict reduces their hopes.

“We urge the ICC’s Prosecutor to pursue its efforts to bring justice to the countless victims and survivors of Ansar Dine’s rule in Northern Mali and of ongoing conflict across the country. A wholesale investigation into violations committed by all parties to the conflict dating back to 2012 must now urgently follow.”


In 2019, Al Hassan ag Abdoul Aziz was charged with crimes against humanity of torture, rape, sexual slavery and other inhuman acts in the context of the take-over of Mali’s northern regions by armed groups Ansar Eddine / Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) between 1 April 2012 and 28 January 2013.

Today he was convicted of the crimes against humanity of torture, persecution and other inhumane acts, and the war crimes of torture, outrages upon personal dignity, mutilation, cruel treatment and passing sentences without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court. Al Hassan was acquitted of the war crimes and crimes against humanity of rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage, as well as the war crime of attacking protected objects.

The court found that Al Hassan was a senior member of the Islamic Police. He surrendered to the ICC a few days after a warrant was issued for his arrest in March 2018. His trial began in July 2020. A sentence for the charges on which Al Hassan was convicted will be handed down at a later date.

This is the second case decision by the ICC in relation to the conflict in Mali after the conviction in 2016 of Ahmad Al Faqi Al-Mahdi for intentionally directing attacks against religious buildings and historical monuments in Timbuktu in 2012. That case was the first at the ICC to focus on the destruction of cultural property.