Accessibility links

UN Reviewing Human Rights Violations in Sudan

The United Nations has dispatched a special representative on genocide to Sudan's western Darfur region to review the human rights situation. The U.N. representative says rights violations persist.

U.N. Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez, says the situation in the war-torn Darfur region remains serious.

Mr. Mendez says there is a disconnect between promises made by the Sudanese government to calm the violence, and gains that have actually been made on the ground.

Mr. Mendez told reporters in Khartoum that nearly all African villages in the region have been destroyed, and that killing, rape and lawlessness continue. New problems have also arisen in the troubled area, threatening the lives of displaced people, known as IDP's.

"IDP's living in camps still are subject to attacks," he said. "A new development seems to be the incursion of armed elements into IDP camps.

"Insecurity, particularly along the perimeter of the camps, is of particular concern, with little discernible effort to correct the situation on the part of the authorities," added Mr. Mendez. "The rape of women who leave the camp to collect firewood continues to be much too prevalent."

Mr. Mendez said due to the continuing violence, there is a deep level of mistrust between displaced persons and Sudanese security forces.

The two-and-a-half-year conflict began when Darfuri rebels rose against the northern government. A scorched earth campaign undertaken by government-backed Arab militias called Janjaweed, has resulted in the deaths of about 200,000 people with two million more displaced.

Disarming the Janjaweed was seen as a key component of ending the violence. Mr. Mendez said the Janjaweed have not been disarmed.

"The most we know is that some weapons have been produced. But it is not clear that an organized fighting force is no longer active. On the contrary, we heard credible reports that, not only are they still very highly organized, but that they may be able to obtain cards assimilating them to the security forces, so that they will be treated as security forces, official security forces, and thereby escape serious investigation," said Mr. Mendez.

Mr. Mendez added he is disappointed in efforts of a special Sudanese criminal court to try perpetrators of the violence. He says that court has focused mainly on low-level criminals, who could be tried in ordinary courts.

The United States has termed the violence in Darfur genocide. The United Nations has refrained from using the controversial term.

Negotiations between Darfuri rebel groups and the Sudanese government are underway in Abuja, Nigeria.