The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) has criticized Sudan for “widespread and systematic” abuses in a report issued this week. The HRC, comprising of 18 independent experts, monitors compliance with the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, wrapped up a three-week session during which it examined the records for three countries including Sudan. The HRC expressed concern over reports of torture, discrimination against women, and the use of child soldiers. There are also reported violations in Darfur, including murder, rape, evictions, and attacks on civilians.
This was the first overall review of Sudan in more than ten years, and the HRC said “widespread and systematic serious human rights violations, including murder, rape, forced displacement and attacks against the civilian population, have been and continue to be committed with total impunity throughout Sudan and particularly in Darfur.” The HRC called on Khartoum to “ensure that no financial support or material is channeled to militias that engage in ethnic cleansing or the deliberate targeting of civilians.” The committee also expressed concern over payments of “diya,” or blood money, for murder in Sudan, as well as reports of widespread torture in prisons, persistent discrimination against women, and the use of child soldiers.
The HRC is also urging the government of Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court to make sure that human rights violations are investigated and that those responsible are prosecuted at the national or international level. Currently, Sudanese police, armed forces, and national security forces are immune from prosecution under Sudanese law. The ICC has already issued arrest warrants for junior cabinet Minister Ahmed Haroun and an allied militia leader, both accused of conspiring to commit war crimes, but Sudan has refused to turn over the suspects.
The UN estimates that 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million displaced during the conflict in Darfur that began four years ago. The government has been accused of sending Arab militias known as janjaweed, which are blamed for the worst human rights violations in Darfur including rape and indiscriminate killings. The current AU peacekeeping force in Darfur is over-stretched and under-funded, and negotiations are currently taking place for a joint AU-UN force.
For more information, please see:
BBC – UN body criticises Sudan abuses – 27 July 2007
Reuters – UN Rights Body Urges Sudan to Prosecute War Crimes – 27 July 2007
Washington Post – UN Rights Committee Criticizes Sudan – 27 July 2007
VOA – UN Condemns Gross Human Rights Violations in Sudan – 27 July 2007