SUDAN WATCH: U.N. sounds Darfur warning in 42-page OHCHR report - U.S. condemns attacks by Sudan's SLA

Sunday, January 29, 2006

U.N. sounds Darfur warning in 42-page OHCHR report - U.S. condemns attacks by Sudan's SLA

A new detailed UN report [see summary here below] warns that killings, rapes and indiscriminate attacks are still forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in Darfur. Excerpt from The Scotsman January 28, 2006:
"A 42-page report said those carrying out the violence included soldiers who fired at civilians from helicopter gunships.

The report criticised the government of coup leader Omar el-Bashir, saying promises to end centuries of discrimination and marginalisation of black African minorities were marked by "token gestures" while murder and torture went unpunished."
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42-page UN report sounds Darfur warning

On January 27, 2006 UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a detailed report on dismal human rights conditions in Darfur and other parts of Sudan and called on Sudanese Government to take measures to end culture of impunity.

UN News Centre January 27, 2006 reports that while noting some progress since peace accords were signed last year, such as the lifting emergency law in certain areas, the OHCHR report says other initiatives have been inadequate, especially in Darfur, where any positive political measures were "overshadowed by an ineffective judiciary, an ongoing conflict, and widespread human rights abuses." Excerpt:
From September to November 2005 government forces, working with militia who were often described by witnesses as Janjaweed, carried out at least eight organised armed attacks on over a dozen camps or villages occupied by internally displaced persons (IDPs). The attackers killed and wounded civilians and destroyed their homes.

The report rejects Sudan's rationale that it was responding to rebel activities, stating that in most cases civilians were "deliberately targeted." It notes that State-sponsored offensives fan the flames of violence by irregular groups "The increase in large attacks on civilians by Government forces likely encouraged the militia to execute other abuses with impunity."

Examples of sexual violence are also described in the report, such as the case of an IDP who was collecting hay one morning when she was approached by three armed military men, "slapped in the face, kicked in the stomach, and accused of being a rebel. She was then raped by two of the men."

The Geneva-based OHCHR reported allegations of torture at the hands of the national security, military intelligence and police officials in Khartoum, and voices serious concern about the absence of fair trial guarantees as well as inhuman detention conditions.

The 42-page report, which bases its findings mostly on direct investigations and information collected from victims, witnesses, and government authorities, calls on the Government to cease its attacks on civilians in Darfur, disarm militias there, and install an effective law enforcement system.

Khartoum is also urged to end culture of impunity, strengthen the judiciary and revoke immunity laws protecting state agents. "The National Security Service should be stripped of it abusive and unchecked powers of arrest and detention," the OHCHR states in the report, which was prepared in cooperation with the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).

Noting that the conflict in Sudan was initially sparked in response to marginalisation and discrimination, the report recommends that resource allocation be fair, transparent, non-discriminatory, and involve the affected communities. The Government should also facilitate the humanitarian and development aid and allow civil society to function freely.

In January, 2005, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), ending a 21-year civil war which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2 million people and the displacement of some 4 million others.
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Janjaweed attacks on refugee camps - OHCHR warns of impending "catastrophe"

See Displaced Populations in Darfur Increasingly Face Annihilation by Eric Reeves January 28, 2006 - Growing number of Janjaweed attacks on camps. UN High Commissioner for Refugees warns of impending "catastrophe" [via Coalition for Darfur]
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US condemns rebels attacks in Darfur

Washington File January 27, 2006 says the U.S. condemns the rebel SLA's attacks on village of Golo and a police convoy in West Darfur on January 23, which killed and wounded a large number of Sudanese Armed Forces personnel.

Teenage SLA rebels in Darfur, Sudan

Photo: Teenage SLA fighters wearing amulets (believed to bring good luck and protect against evil the person who wears them) look on while in the rebel held village of Bodong in North Darfur, March 3, 2005. (Reuters/ST)
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Quote of the Day

"A lasting solution to this conflict can only be found through a negotiated settlement," he [UN Secretary-General] stressed.

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