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UN Experts Hold Sudan Accountable for Attacks in Darfur

U.N. human rights experts say Sudan should be held accountable for massive human rights violations in Darfur. The experts have submitted a report that calls for the Sudanese government to take specific steps to improve conditions in war-torn Darfur. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

The experts have presented the Sudanese government with what amounts to a code of conduct. They say the occurrence of human rights violations in Darfur is widely known and sending another fact-finding mission to Darfur is not necessary. What is needed, they say, is finding practical ways to stop the abuse.

Simi Samar is UN special investigator on Sudan who chaired the group of experts. She says the report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council is trying to find practical ways to implement recommendations that have been made in previous fact-finding missions.

"The few issues that we have to highlight," said Simi Samar. "One, the protection of human rights for civilians is the responsibility of the government. And two, we do not see any military solution for the Darfur problem. So, it should be more political and dialogue and inclusive in order to end the suffering of the people. Three, we insist on accountability and justice. The people who committed the crime, they have to be brought to justice in order to build the confidence between the public and the government in Sudan."

The United Nations estimates more than 200,000 people have died in Darfur since war between the Sudanese-backed Arab janjaweed militia and rebel African groups broke out four years ago. Another 2.5 million people have been driven out of their homes.

The experts have presented more than 30 detailed recommendations that they want Sudan to meet within three to 12 months. A Swiss expert on internally displaced persons, Walter Kalin, says the Sudanese government must halt all attacks against civilians in Darfur.

"What is needed in the short-term and can be done is first a high-level order given to the security forces not to attack civilians, to distinguish between civilians and military objectives," said Walter Kalin. "And, then to translate that kind of political commitment and order into the operational orders given, for instance, to pilots that go out."

The report also demands Khartoum orders its armed forces to stop rapes, disappearances and torture. It warns these actions may amount to war crimes. It also urges immediate protection and unimpeded access for humanitarian workers.

The U.N. report says the Sudanese government has pledged to implement the recommendations.