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UN Envoy Says Sudan Rights Record in Darfur Poor


A top U.N. envoy to Sudan has charged that the nation's human rights record in Darfur remains poor, despite the signing of a peace deal aimed at ending violence in the region. The U.N. says human rights abuses have continued with impunity in Darfur, and a special court set up by Sudan to try Darfuri war criminals has failed to bring justice to victims.

U.N. Commission on Human Rights special investigator Sima Samar says Sudan has done little to improve its human rights record in Darfur.

Samar told reporters in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, that local authorities have done little to protect civilians in the region from rape, murder and looting, and have failed to deter violence against vulnerable populations.

Furthermore, Samar said, government restrictions are hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid to some parts of Darfur.

"As the security situation deteriorates in Darfur and the population becomes increasingly vulnerable, I am concerned that the government has not taken the necessary action to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the affected communities," said Samar. "Many civilians cannot be reached due to the fighting or limitations which have been imposed by the authorities on the delivery of assistance."

Millions of Darfuris are dependent on food and medical aid provided by humanitarian organizations.

Samar also expressed concern that a special court set up by Sudan to try war criminals has failed to bring justice to victims and has had little effect in the region.

A war crimes court in the volatile northern region has only seven cases pending, while there are no cases before the western Darfur court.

Sudan set up a special court in 2005, in response to demands by the international community that Darfuri war-crimes suspects be sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Sudan forcefully resisted the demands and insisted it could try war criminals internally.

Since the signature of a May 5 peace deal, much of the violence in Darfur has come as a result of infighting between one faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army led by Minni Minnawi, which signed the agreement, and other factions that refused to accept the deal.

About 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes since the conflict broke out in 2003.

Sudan is charged with responding by arming local militias to crush an armed rebellion. The militias embarked on a brutal campaign of rape and murder in which 200,000 people have died.