Mali singer Traoré flouts French court ban and returns home

Malian singer Rokia Traoré has quit France in the midst of a child custody dispute.
Malian singer Rokia Traoré has quit France in the midst of a child custody dispute. © Bertrand Langlois, AFP/File

Malian singer Rokia Traoré has flown home, flouting a ban issued by a French court which was to hand her over to Belgium over a child custody dispute, her lawyer said on Sunday.


The singer and guitarist was arrested in March on a European arrest warrant when she arrived from Bamako at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport.

This followed a Belgian court ruling last year ordering her to return her five-year-old daughter to the child’s Belgian father, from whom Traoré is separated.

A Paris court subsequently ruled that she could be extradited but allowed her conditional release.

“Back in Bamako. The quest for justice continues,” Traoré said on her Facebook page on Tuesday in a post that was only spotted on Sunday by the French daily Le Parisien.

In a post dated Friday, Traoré, who flew back to Mali on a private flight, claimed not to be “a terrorist”.

“This is a mother in a desperate plight who is afraid that her child will be torn from her,” her lawyer Kenneth Feliho told AFP.  “That is why she left for Mali where she lives.”

Traoré is appealing the decision of the Belgian court granting full custody to her former partner. According to her lawyer, a decision in the Mali courts had accorded custody to the singer.

An award-winning musician, Traoré is also known for her advocacy work for refugees, and was made a UN ambassador for refugees in 2016.


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