UN rights chief prepares to brief Security Council on possible war crimes in Sudan's Darfur

14 February 2005

As the top United Nations human rights official prepared to brief the Security Council on reported war crimes in Sudan's western Darfur, scattered reports of violence continued to come in today from the region where tens of thousands of people have been killed and up to 1.85 million others displaced in the past two years.

The UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) said incidents included an armed attack by tribal militia four days ago in South Darfur state, where two civilians were reportedly killed and 1,500 cattle looted. The police intervened and the attackers fled.

The African Union (AU), which has monitoring teams in the area, is facilitating the return of livestock stolen by the Janjaweed on 9 February in the Kass area of South Darfur where other cattle looting has been reported.

The AU reported that part of a market was burned down in tribal clashes east of Nyala in which four villagers were allegedly killed and four wounded.

In North Darfur Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) rebels reportedly attacked Sudanese Government forces east of El Fasher and also allegedly seized nine commercial trucks, UNAMIS said.

The SLA and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) took up arms against the Government in early 2003, partly in protest at the distribution of economic resources.

On Wednesday, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour is to brief the 15-member Security Council in New York on the report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, which found earlier this month that the Government and Janjaweed militia are responsible for crimes under international law and strongly recommended referring the dossier to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

While concluding that the Government had not pursued a policy of genocide, the Commission found that Government forces and militias had committed crimes against humanity that "may be no less serious and heinous than genocide," such as indiscriminate killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement.

The five-person Commission also found credible evidence that rebel forces were responsible for possible war crimes, including murder of civilians and pillage.

Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on the Council to consider possible sanctions over what the Commission called "serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to crimes under international law."


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