UN Condemns Human Rights Violations in Sudan

UN Condemns Human Rights Violations in Sudan

By Impunity Watch Africa

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

Gorillas in DRC Brutally Murdered to Convey Political Message

By Meryl White
Impunity Watch, Africa

In Democratic Republic of Congo, four endangered mountain gorillas were found brutally murdered this week in Virunga National Park. The four silverback gorillas are known to researchers as the Rugendo family. These four animals belonged to a pack of twelve gorillas which were often visited by tourists.

Park staff and WildlifeDirect officials positioned in Virunga’s Bukima camp reported hearing gunshots at 8 p.m. on Saturday coming from within the dark forest.

Since January, seven large endangered apes have been shot dead. According to conservationists, poachers were not responsible for these vicious killings because they would have taken the bodies for food or sale.

Conversely, conservationists believe that the “senseless and tragic” killings were an act of sabotage committed by a group trying to convey the political message to keep rangers out of Virunga National Park. Presently, the protected park is under pressure from “outside exploitation,” including the lucrative charcoal trade. Mark Rose, chief executive of Fauna and Flora International, stated, “Whatever the motive underlying this tragedy, the gorillas are helpless pawns in a feud between individuals.”

Deo Kujirakwinja of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Congo programme, stated “This area must be immediately secured or we stand to lose an entire population of these animals.” According to a 2004 census, 380 gorillas, more than half of the world’s population, reside in the national park and nearby Virunga volcanoes region.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Concern Over Gorilla ‘Executions’ – 26 July 2007

BBC – DR Congo Rebel Threat to Gorillas – 21 May 2007

AllAfrica – Rwanda: Gorillas Mass Execution Reported in DR Congo – 24 July 2007

Zimbabwe = Economic Depression and Political Repression

By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch, Africa

A report released by Amnesty International describes the situation for Zimbabwean women as “between a rock and a hard place.” Along with struggling to provide for their family in a collapsing economy, women activist are being arrested repeatedly and tortured for peaceful protest against President Robert Mugabe’s government.

The leading group of women activists is the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). The object of their protest is the rampant hyperinflation, severe food shortage ,and the bankruptcy of many companies. To punish the anti-government activist, the police has prohibited many from purchasing food, and receiving food aid and health services. Many of the group’s members have been arrested with babies and held naked in the detainment cells.

Other women have shared accounts of unlawful detainment in deplorable conditions and random beatings. One activist was kicked in the stomach by the police while she was two months pregnant, causing her have a miscarriage.

Although thousands are protesting, women are the majority despite continual harassment and intimidation. WOZA and Amnesty International is urging African leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to pressure President Mugabe to observe African Union and U.N. human rights standards. In the meantime, Zimbabwean women have vowed to continue vocalizing the woes of the country and demanding change.

For more information please see:

AllAfrica – Zimbabwe: Amnesty Report Shows Women Activist face Increasing Repression – 25 July 2007

BBC – Zimbabwe’s Women ‘Face Brutality’ – 25 July 2007

Yahoo – Reports Say Zimbabwean Women Face Abuses – 24 July 2007

Yahoo – Zimbabwe Women Activist Face Increasing Repression: Amnesty – 24 July 2007

Myanmar human rights defender sentenced

Myanmar human rights defender sentenced

A Myanmar human rights defender was sentenced to eight years in prison for inciting unrest.  He was beaten by a pro-government mob.

Myint Naing was sentenced in the Henzeda Township Court, 60 miles northwest of Yangon, Myanmar (Burnma). 

Five people others were sentenced to four years imprisonment each.  Myint Naing and a fellow member of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Network, Maung Maung Lay, were attacked and seriously wounded April 18 at Oakpon village in Henzeda.  They were headed to another village to continue to conduct human rights training.

Fify to 100 men with clubs and other homemade weapons attacked them.  The attack was carried out by the Union Solidarity and Development Association, a government-backed group accused of assaulting and intimidating the military government’s opponents.

The USDA was linked to attacks against opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy supporters in the Yangon in 1997, as well as a deadly attack on the party leader and her supporters in northern Myanmar on May 30, 2003.

The junta created the USDA in 1993 as a social welfare organization. It claims more than 20 million members, more than one-third of the country’s population. Public servants and local officials come under heavy pressure to join.

The military has ruled since 1962, with the latest junta emerging after a 1988 crackdown on pro-democracy protests. The military has been widely accused of atrocities against ethnic minorities and of suppressing the democracy movement.

For more information, please see:




International Summit to Discuss Iraqi Refugee Crisis

A summit was held in Amman, Jordan to discuss the refugee crisis.  War and sectarian violence in Iraq has caused over two million Iraqis to leave the country and over two million displaced within Iraq.  During the international conference, Muhammad Hajj Hamoud, secretary general of Iraq’s foreign ministry, warned of a humanitarian crisis.  He urged host countries to help ease the burden of the refugees and not to forcibly deport these refugees back to Iraq while Iraq remains unstable.  He also urged the international community to help the countries shouldering much of the burden by providing more aid and helping asylum-seeking refugees find permanent homes.

The two countries hosting the majority of the refugees are Jordan and Syria.  The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 750,000 Iraqis sought refuge in Jordan and 1,200,000 fled to Syria.  In May, Jordanian officials claimed that the government spent one billion dollars a year hosting these refugees.  However, despite this large sum of money, many children are not able to receive medical treatment or attend school.  In Syria, refugees have turn to prostitution and child trafficking as means to earn money.

A day prior to the conference, Amnesty International released a statement addressing the refugee crisis.  In the statement, the organization called for “urgent international action” to assist Syria and Jordan to supporting their growing numbers of refugees.  Without international help, especially in the form of aid money, Iraq’s neighbors will not be able to continue to support these large numbers of refugees.  If these countries are not able to support the refugees, many incoming Iraqis will be turned away at the border, forced to return to unsafe and unstable conditions.  In addition, it is likely that many more refugees will be forcibly deported back to Iraq.

For more information please see:
Amnesty International:  “Iraq refugees crisis nears breaking point”  26 July 2007. 

Amnesty International:  “Iraq:  International support urgently needed to address spiraling refugee crisis”  26 July 2007. 

Amnesty International:  “Iraq:  The situation of Iraqi refugees in Syria”  26 July 2007. 

BBC:  “Crisis warning on Iraq refugees”  26 July 2007. 

Canada.com:  “Iraq urges neighbors to end abuse of refugees”  26 July 2007. 

UNHCR:  “UNHCR deplores forced return of 135 Iraqis by Turkey”  26 July 2007. 

Boston Globe:  “Amnesty urges help for Iraqi refugees”  25 July 2007.