To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to support initiatives to (a) combat illicit trafficking across Mali's borders, (b) strengthen the investigative and judicial capacity and capabilities of the Malian Government, (c) reduce inequality and corruption in Mali and (d) reduce military intervention in Mali's politics; and if he will make a statement.
Many of the challenges faced by Mali are shared by its region. The UK has therefore taken a regional approach to tackling the issues. This has also helped to shape the strategic approaches of the EU and UN.
(a) We are working both bilaterally and with international partners to strengthen security, including around the region's porous borders. The UK is contributing to, and participating in, the EU's security sector capacity building mission (EUCAP Sahel Mali) in neighbouring Niamey. We are supportive, in principle, of establishing a similar mission in Mali.
(b) The UK's small, but active, participation in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is helping to strengthen the Malians' criminal justice sector.
(c) The UK Special Envoy to the Sahel, my right hon. Friend Mr O'Brien visited Mali in early March and raised the issue of corruption during a meeting with President Keita. President Keita assured Mr O'Brien that tackling corruption was a priority. The Department for International Development's development programme is also aimed at alleviating poverty and building sustainable livelihoods.
(d) We welcome the decision to investigate the crimes committed by the former military junta. This will be an important process in helping Mali to rebuild an accountable, democratic system.