Home | News    Sunday 23 August 2015

411 cases of human rights violations went unpunished in Darfur in 2014: UN

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August 22, 2015 (KHARTOUM) - A new report by the UN Human Rights Office claimed that serious human rights violations and abuses that occurred in Darfur in 2014, including killings and sexual violence, have largely gone uninvestigated and unpunished.

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An internally displaced woman waits at a healthcare center at El Sereif IDPs camp in the South Darfur town of Nyala May 29, 2010 (Reuters)

The report, based on information provided by the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), states that out of the 411 cases documented by the mission of alleged violations and abuses of the right to physical integrity, by all parties to the conflict, very few were investigated or resulted in arrests.

“Of these, 127 involved the use of sexual violence. These 411 cases are illustrative of a much broader pattern of violence,” it adds.

It details incidents where Sudanese police and security forces were allegedly involved in physical attacks against civilians, including shooting and killing, as well as abductions, robberies and extortion.

“Such cases are underreported due to fears of reprisals and a general lack of trust in the authorities,” the report reads.

The report points out that in some cases, the work of UN human rights staff was impeded by difficulties in gaining access, “including the refusal of government authorities and armed opposition groups to allow staff to reach areas where serious abuses were alleged to have taken place”.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the report paints a very grim picture of the systemic failure, or outright refusal, by the authorities to take human rights violations seriously.

“The casual manner in which inquiries by UN human rights staff have been dismissed by local police is deeply disturbing and indicates the extent to which State officials feel they are above the law. The authorities must bring an end to the endemic impunity in Darfur,” he pointed out.

The report also documents violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, including indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilian areas resulting in deaths and injuries, burning of villages, and destruction of other civilian property.

“In these cases, the state has also failed to establish effective legal or judicial mechanisms to hold perpetrators of such crimes accountable,” it said.

According to the report, earlier initiatives by the Sudanese government to address the situation, including the creation of the special court for crimes in Darfur in 2003, national commissions of inquiry, judicial investigation mechanisms and the revision of the 1991 criminal code, “have so far been ineffective – reflecting a lack of will to address impunity”.

Al-Hussein urged the Sudanese government and the armed opposition groups to take the findings of this report very seriously and to prioritize the fight against impunity, “including through prompt, thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigations, and prosecutions, in line with international norms and standards”.

He also urged both parties to cooperate with the investigation and prosecution of violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law, including with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Darfur has been a flashpoint for lawlessness and violence since rebel movements took up arms against the Khartoum government in 2003.

According to the UN Human Rights Council, 400,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced.

(ST)

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