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Renowned Malian Singer Rokia Traoré Arrested in Italy Over Custody Dispute

Malian Singer Rokia Traoré arrested. News. Famous Malian singer Rokia Traoré was arrested at Rome’s main international airport over a child custody dispute. She was detained at Fiumicino airport while arriving for a concert, according to Italian media. The airport’s spokesperson confirmed her arrest by border police.

In 2020, Traoré was first detained in France on a Belgian arrest warrant for not handing over her child to the father. After being released, she flew to Mali, violating a travel ban from France. Last October, a Belgian court sentenced her in absentia to two years in prison for parental abduction. Her daughter, now nine, has lived in Mali since she was four. Her father has had no contact with her since then.

Traoré had been traveling to Brussels to appeal the custody ruling when she was initially arrested. Mali’s government supported her, citing her diplomatic passport. Traoré, a renowned African vocalist, has won several awards, including the BBC Award for World Music in 2004 and the 2009 World Music Album of the Year in Victoires de la Musique. She is also known for her work as a goodwill ambassador for the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees.

More about Rokia Traoré

Rokia Traoré’s father was a diplomat, allowing her to travel widely during her youth. She visited Algeria, Saudi Arabia, France, and Belgium, experiencing a variety of cultural influences. Her hometown of Kolokani is in the northwestern part of Mali’s Koulikoro region.

In 1997, Traoré’s career gained momentum when she collaborated with Malian musician Ali Farka Touré. She was also selected to be on the jury for the main competition section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Despite sharing the same last name, she is not related to Malian singer/guitarist Boubacar Traoré, though they performed a duet on her 2000 album “Wanita.”

From 2013 to 2018, Traoré was in a relationship with Belgian playwright and artistic director Jan Goossens, with whom she has a daughter born in Belgium in 2015. Since their separation in 2018, they have been in a custody battle over their daughter. The conflict is partly due to differences between African and European judicial systems. A court in Mali granted Traoré full custody, which was contested by Belgian authorities.

In March 2020, Traoré was arrested after a judge in Brussels issued a warrant demanding she surrender her daughter. She was detained at Fleury-Mérogis prison near Paris and went on a hunger strike. Several musicians, including Angélique Kidjo, Damon Albarn, Youssou N’Dour, and Salif Keita, publicly supported her and called for her release.