UN rights chief slams 'endemic impunity' in Sudan's Darfur
Sudan has failed to investigate serious human rights violations, including rape and murder, in the Darfur region, a fresh report said Friday, as the UN rights chief decried "endemic impunity" in the region.
The report by the United Nations rights agency documents more than 400 serious rights abuse cases in Darfur last year, affecting nearly 1,000 people, including cases where Sudanese police and security forces allegedly attacked and killed civilians.
Yet only "very few" of the cases had been investigated or resulted in arrests, the rights office said in a statement pointing out that more than a quarter of the cases involved sexual violence, including gang rapes of minors carried out by men in military uniform.
"The report paints a very grim picture of the systemic failure, or outright refusal, by the authorities to take human rights violations seriously," UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said.
"Most victims have not received justice or any remedies for the wrongs that they suffered," he said, adding that "the casual manner in which inquiries by UN human rights staff have been dismissed by local police is deeply disturbing and indicates the extent to which state officials feel they are above the law."
"The authorities must bring an end to the endemic impunity in Darfur," Zeid insisted.
Darfur has been engulfed by violence since ethnic insurgents rebelled against Khartoum's rule 12 years ago, complaining of economic and political marginalisation by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.
The government of President Omar al-Bashir -- who has been wanted by the International Criminal Court since 2009 for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur -- unleashed a brutal counter-offensive using Arab militia and the military.
The UN says the conflict has killed 300,000 people and forced 2.5 million others from their homes.
The government has claimed progress in Darfur, but the violence is continuing.
Friday's report, based on information provided by the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), documented the killings of 392 civilians last year.
It said there were 59 incidents of inter-communal conflicts in the region last year alone, including some that left hundreds of civilians dead.
The report decried abuses by all parties in the conflict, including indiscriminate aerial bombings of civilian areas and the burning of villages.
"I urge the government of the Sudan and the armed opposition groups to take the findings of this report very seriously and to prioritise the fight against impunity, including through prompt, thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigations and prosecutions," Zeid said.
He called for both the government in Khartoum and opposition groups to cooperate with investigations and prosecution for rights violations, "including with the International Criminal Court".
© 2015 AFP