UN probe on Sudan abuses starts with call for fighting to stop

AFP , Thursday 18 Jan 2024

Sudan's warring parties must stop the fighting, a UN fact-finding mission said Thursday as it started its work investigating alleged human rights abuses in the deadly conflict.

Sudanese supporters and members of the Sudanese armed popular resistance, which supports the army, raise their weapons on a pick up truck during a meeting with the city s governor in Gedaref, Sudan, on January 16, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in Sudan between the army and paramilitaries. AFP


The three-member team is calling on the rival factions to uphold their obligations to protect civilians and ensure that perpetrators of grave crimes are held to account.

Since April 15 last year, Sudan has been gripped by a war pitting army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan against his former deputy, paramilitary Rapid Support Forces commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

In October, the United Nations Human Rights Council established a fact-finding mission to probe all alleged human rights and international humanitarian law violations in the conflict.

"Sudanese civil society organisations and other interlocutors have started sharing allegations of ongoing serious violations with us," the mission's chair Mohamed Chande Othman said in a statement.

"These allegations underscore the importance of accountability, the necessity of our investigations, and the vital need for the violence to end immediately."

The independent mission's members were appointed on December 18.

Othman, a former chief justice of Tanzania, is joined by Joy Ezeilo, emeritus dean of law at the University of Nigeria, and Mona Rishmawi of Jordan and Switzerland, a former UN independent expert on human rights in Somalia.

"The warring parties have international legal obligations to protect civilians from attacks, guarantee humanitarian access and refrain from murders, forced displacement, torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances under any circumstances," Rishmawi said.

"We will carefully verify all allegations received and carry out our fact-finding independently and impartially."

Ezeilo said rape allegations and the alleged recruitment of children for use in hostilities were "among the priority concerns for our investigations".

The mission said individuals, groups and organisations could submit information confidentially.

The mission's mandate runs for an initial duration of one year.

The investigators are due to give an oral update on their initial findings to the Human Rights Council's June-July session, followed by a comprehensive report in September-October.

More than 13,000 people have been killed since the war began in April, according to a conservative estimate by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, and the United Nations says more than seven million people have been displaced.

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