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Sudan: UN Commission statement on Darfur


Sudan: UN Commission statement on Darfur

– bland words in response to a deepening human rights crisis On the very last day of its 60th session, the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a weakly worded Chairperson's Statement on the human rights situation in Darfur. The Chairperson's Statement calls on all parties to the conflict to respect the ceasefire, grant access to humanitarian organizations and sets up an Independent Expert to report back on human rights situation to the General Assembly and next year's session of the Commission.

"This is a very meagre response to a situation that is at the point of spiralling into a full-fledged human rights catastrophe", Amnesty International said.

Ten years after the genocide in Rwanda, the Commission on Human Rights has shown itself to be incapable of taking strong and decisive action on this human rights crisis.

"This once again calls into question the Commission's ability and willingness to rise above the political wrangling and to promote and protect human rights", Amnesty International said.

At the start of the Commission, the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a fact-finding mission to Sudan, which visited Chad but has yet to get access to Darfur. Their interim report, which was leaked during the Commission, concluded that the Janjawid militias "have operated with total impunity and in close coordination with the government of Sudan" and "the pattern of attacks on civilians includes killing, rape, pillage, including of livestock, and destruction of property, including water sources".

The OHCHR mission recommended that the Government of Sudan: - condemn actions of the militias and disband them; - give full and unimpeded access to humanitarian workers; - promote a policy of national reconciliation, end impunity and promote the rule of law; - enable refugees and displaced persons to return home without fear for their lives with compensation and reparations; - ensure that such abuses do not happen again; - set up an independent international commission of inquiry to identify crimes committed by all sides; - ensure continuous monitoring of the Darfur situation; - invite the UN special mechanisms to visit the region;

"The international community and the UN must act now to prevent another man-made tragedy in the region", says Amnesty International.

Background

A deterioration in human rights in Darfur started after February 2003 when a new armed group calling itself the Sudan Liberation Army attacked Sudan Government forces saying that they were taking action against the marginalization of Darfur and the failure of the Sudan government to protect farming groups from nomad raiders. Another armed group, the Justice and Equality Movement, was also formed. After initially talking about reconciliation, at the end of March 2003 the Sudan government decided to solve the problem by repression. It allowed free rein to government-supported militias, drawn mostly from the Arab groups and known as the Janjawid, to attack villages in Darfur.

Since April 2003 the Janjawid, who now usually dress in Sudanese military uniform and are accompanied by the Sudanese army or Popular Defence Forces, have burnt villages, killed the sedentary population, carried out rapes, including gang rapes on schoolchildren, and pillaged property and livestock. At the same time the Sudanese air force has carried out bombing attacks on civilian centres. Now, nearly every village in the region has been devastated. Thousands have been killed. Close to a million residents of rural areas in Darfur have fled to towns in the region. Many of them are not receiving humanitarian aid and with the rainy season approaching, when roads become difficult or impassable, their situation is dire. More than 100,000 people have taken refuge over the borders into Chad.

On 8 April 2004 heavy international pressure obtained the signing of a ceasefire in Ndjamena, Chad. The ceasefire has already been broken and no monitoring force for the ceasefire has been set up.

View all documents on Sudan at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacbuiaa6jpvbb0hPub/

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