September 10, 2008 (GENEVA) — Sima Samar, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Sudan yesterday accused Khartoum of indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Darfur and affording impunity to those who abuse human rights in the troubled region.
In her latest annual report presented Tuesday to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Samar said “The human rights situation on the ground remains grim.” “A culture of impunity is prevalent; the state fails to investigate, punish and prosecute perpetrators of human rights violations,” she further said.
The UN expert underlined “indiscriminate” and “disproportionate” bombing of civilians by Sudanese forces in eastern Darfur, as well as ongoing sexual violence and a wave of arbitrary arrests and disappearances.
She also highlighted the repeated bombing against civilians. “There are several reports of air attacks by government forces, leading to extensive civilian casualties,” the report said, citing bombings in west Darfur and in north Darfur in the first half of this year.
“The majority of the bombs apparently impacted on civilian populated areas, including detonations in the vicinity of water installations, a school and a market,” it continued, adding that scores of people were killed and wounded.
Sudan carried out 21 aerial bombardments in Darfur in the first three weeks of July, killing as many as 12 people, including children, according to Samar.
“The air strikes were carried out by the government of Sudan with Antonov aircrafts and MIG fighter jets,” she said.
The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died, and more than 2.2 million have fled their homes, since the Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003. Sudan says 10,000 have been killed.
Samar urged support to the hybrid peacekeeping mission. She called for Khartoum and the international community to give their “unconditional support to speeding up and completing the deployment of UNAMID”.
Concerns were mounting about “violations of civil and political rights in different parts of the country in the lead-up to the general elections” scheduled for 2009, she said.
She also raised concerns about 500 people, including activists and journalists, who disappeared after a rebel attack in Khartoum in May. The group is believed to be in detention where they may be subjected to torture, the report said.
Samar is to address the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday. The 47-member forum renewed her mandate in December for another year, overcoming resistance from African and Islamic states.
Special rapporteurs are unpaid experts who are mandated by the Human Rights Council to provide it with independent assessments and recommendations regarding particular human rights hotspots.