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Rape, Sexual Violence Continue In Sudan

Rape, Sexual Violence Continue In Sudan’s Darfur Region, UNReports

New York, Jul 29 2005

Armed elements in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region, including law enforcement officers and the military, continue to perpetrate rape and sexual violence, with the authorities seemingly unable or unwilling to hold them accountable, according to a new United Nations report released today.

“Many women do not report incidents out of fear of reprisals and are discouraged from reporting given the lack of redress for sexual violence,” says the report, an assessment of how the Government of Sudan has lived up to commitments undertaken a year ago in a joint communiqué with Secretary-General Kofi Annan to investigate and punish sexual violence in Darfur.

“Some police stations refuse to register and investigate complaints of sexual violence. When cases are registered, police officials often do not vigorously investigate the claims,” it adds, noting that the authorities intimidate victims and witnesses into withdrawing charges.

The report, “Access to Justice for Victims of Sexual Violence,” prepared at the initiative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), looks at patterns of rape in Darfur, which has been racked by a conflict between the government, allied militias and rebels that has killed at least 180,000 people and driven 2 million more from their homes in the past two and a half years.

It lists specific cases and details different obstacles to justice as well as instances of arrest, intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders and medical providers.

It says the Government is starting to take some steps, including the formation of a State Committee on Gender Based Violence for South Darfur and the provision of technical assistance to improve the investigative capacity of law enforcement agencies. But major obstacles continue to prevent most victims from seeking accountability.

It notes that the authorities generally deny the allegations of rape and sexual violence and intimidate not only victims and witnesses into withdrawing charges but also local and international humanitarian organizations.

In order to bring sexual violence to an end, the Government of Sudan needs to fully acknowledge the scope of the problem and take concrete action to end the climate of impunity in Darfur, the report states.

“Only timely and credible investigations and prosecutions of sexual violence will make it clear to the perpetrators of sexual violence, who include members of the law enforcement, security forces and pro-government militia, that sexual violence will no longer be tolerated,” it says.

But to date most perpetrators of rape and sexual violence have not been brought to justice, adding that it remains to be seen whether a recently established Special Criminal Court for the Events in Darfur will effectively address these crimes.

ENDS


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