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UK backs calls for new investigation into Darfur mass rape allegations

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February 13, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – A British official renewed on Friday the support of his government for a new credible investigation of the allegation of mass rape by Sudanese soldiers in North Darfur last year.

Darfur special crimes prosecutor Yasir Ahmed Mohamed and aides interview women about the alleged mass rape in Tabit, North Darfur on 20 November 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdalla)

In a report released this week, Human Rights Watch said they reached by telephone over 50 residents and former residents of Tabit to verify the allegations of mass rape on 30 and 31 October 2014. The group also interviewed rights monitors, local officials and UNAMID peacekeepers.

“On two nights, witnesses said, soldiers forced large groups of men to the outskirts of Tabit, leaving the women and children vulnerable to attacks in their homes. The soldiers threatened and beat the men throughout the night,” HRW said.

“I am particularly concerned by the findings of the Human Rights Watch report (...) These are extremely serious allegations,” said Joyce Anelay, minister of state for the Foreign Office.

Anelay further said that HRW report brings to lights the need carry out “open investigation” about what happened in Tabit.

“We continue to support the call for that investigation,” she said.

Anelay’s call for a new investigation comes less than 24 hours after remarks by the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power before the Security Council where she criticised the refusal of the Sudanese authorities to allow UNAMID to carry out a credible investigation.

Power said Khartoum denial pushes them to rely on independent groups “to gather witness and perpetrator testimony and to shine a light on what happened”.

"To this day, the government of Sudan has shamefully denied the U.N. the ability to properly investigate this incident," she further said.

Reacting to the US diplomat’s comments, Sudan’s deputy representative to the UN, Hassan Hamid Hassan, rejected HRW report saying it is a “fabricated” report by an “impartial” group.

He further said that Power “repeated baseless accusations made” by a media group based outside the country promoting “the continuation of rebel movements”.

Hassan went to add that the peacekeeping mission had been allowed to visit Tabit adding that UNAMID did not blamed the mass rape.

The Sudanese government allowed the UNAMID peacekeepers to visit Tabit on 9 November 2014 but the presence of security forces intimated civilians and prevented the UN investigators from carrying out a serious investigation.

On Thursday, the UN deputy secretary-general Jan Eliasson said concerned by the findings of HRW on the alleged mass rape and urged the Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour to allow full investigation on the incident.

(ST)

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