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UN Rebukes Sudan Over Human Rights Abuses in Darfur

A group of UN experts has criticized the government of Sudan for failing to implement most of the recommendations made by special investigators to the conflict-racked Darfur region. The group presented its report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva from where Lisa Schlein reports for VOA.

This group was set up to work with the government of Sudan to help it implement the recommendations made by previous investigators to Darfur.

Special representative on the human rights situation in Sudan, Sima Samar, says the government cooperated and worked well with the Group in procedural terms.

"However, in terms of substance, it observed that few recommendations were fully implemented or had a tangible impact...While first steps have been made by the government, with regard to many of the recommendations, they have not yielded sufficient impact according to the reports received by organizations operational in Darfur...The group remains concerned that reports received indicate clearly that with very few exceptions, these efforts have not yet led to an improvement of the situation of human rights in Darfur," he said.

Recommendations made by previous fact-finding missions go to the heart of the four-year old conflict, which has claimed more than 200,000 lives and displaced more than two million people.

For example, the investigators have urged the government of Sudan to prohibit its armed forces and any militias under its control from attacking civilians, their land and livestock. They have called for an end to the forcible recruitment of child soldiers.

They have told the government to stop the rape and sexual abuse of women and girls. They also have called on the government to bring people guilty of crimes to justice.

UN Special investigator, Philip Alston, says human rights abuse in Darfur remains rampant. He cites some statistics regarding violence against children and humanitarian workers. "In September, there were 40 cases of sexually transmitted diseases reported in children under five. In terms of humanitarian workers, there is the Zoe's Ark disaster, but we should also note that 118 staff have been taken hostage this year, more than 59 physically or sexually assaulted and 12 killed," he said.

The Sudanese representative says he appreciates the cooperative relationship his government has formed with the UN rights group. But he says the situation in Darfur is steadily improving. This can be seen, he says, by the fact that almost 400,000 internally displaced people have returned to their homes this year.

The UN experts say they cannot verify this.However, they say UN figures on the ground indicate that, since the beginning of the year, 267,000 people have been newly displaced in Darfur.