Head of state: Amadou Toumani Toure
Head of government: Modibo Sidibe
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice
Population: 13 million
Life expectancy: 48.1 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 193/188 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 26.2 per cent

A draft law equalizing rights for men and women sparked controversy and protests. At least 10 people were sentenced to death; no executions were carried out.


The government and Tuareg armed groups from Niger and Mali concluded another peace agreement in October. The Malian authorities pledged to develop the region of Kidal and the Tuareg armed groups agreed to co-operate with the government in its fight against al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In January, a Tuareg armed group released three Malian soldiers held since 2008. The army released members of a Tuareg armed group in June.

In January, four European tourists were abducted by AQIM in northern Mali. Two were released in April and one in July. UK national Edwin Dyer was reportedly executed in June after the UK authorities refused to release Abu Qatada (see United Kingdom entry). Robert Fowler, Canadian UN envoy, and his aide Louis Guay, captured by AQIM in Niger in December 2008, were released in April in Mali. AQIM also said it was holding Pierre Camatte, a French national abducted in northern Mali in November. Other European hostages abducted in Mauritania were reportedly held in Mali (see Mauritania entry).

Women's rights

The Bill for Persons and Family Code, which grants equal rights to women, sparked widespread debate. It makes 18 the minimum age for marriage, and stipulates that both parties must consent to marriage and divorce, and both father and mother have parental authority. It also gives men and women equal inheritance rights.

After Parliament adopted the Code in August, tens of thousands of people – led by religious groups – demonstrated across the country against its adoption. Women's organizations had mixed reactions, most calling for more discussions. President Toure sent the Bill back to Parliament, where it awaited a second reading.

Death penalty

At least 10 people were sentenced to death.

  • In March, Bamako Assize Court sentenced Makan Diarra to death on 12 March for the murder of a six-year-old child. His lawyer pleaded that his client was mentally ill.

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