UN human rights chief urges end to ‘endemic impunity’ for violations in Darfur

24 August 2015 | Press Releases

Darfur, 21 August 2015 – A new United Nations report paints a grim picture of “systemic failure, or outright refusal” by authorities in Darfur to take human rights violations seriously and points to the failure of initiatives taken so far by the Government to combat “endemic impunity.”

Following attacks in January 2015, thousands of people, mostly women and children, fled from different villages and took refuge at a safe zone adjacent to UNAMID’s base in Um Baru, North Darfur. Photo: UNAMID/Hamid Abdulsalam

Following attacks in January 2015, thousands of people, mostly women and children, fled from different villages and took refuge at a safe zone adjacent to UNAMID’s base in Um Baru, North Darfur. Photo: UNAMID/Hamid Abdulsalam

“Most victims have not received justice or any remedies for the wrongs that they suffered,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on the report’s findings.

“The casual manner in which inquiries by UN human rights staff have been dismissed by local police is deeply disturbing and indicates the extent to which State officials feel they are above the law,” he said. “The authorities must bring an end to the endemic impunity in Darfur.”

The report, based on information provided by the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), details cases of human rights violations and reveals widespread impunity.

The report details incidents where Sudanese police and security forces were allegedly involved in physical attacks against civilians, including shooting and killing, as well as abductions, robberies and extortion. Such cases, the report said, are underreported due to fears of reprisals and a general lack of trust in the authorities.

“Of the 411 cases documented by UNAMID of alleged violations and abuses of the right to physical integrity, by all parties to the conflict, very few were investigated or resulted in arrests,” according to the report. “Of these, 127 involved the use of sexual violence. These 411 cases are illustrative of a much broader pattern of violence.”

“It describes the failure of initiatives taken so far by the Government to combat impunity in Darfur, including the creation of the Special Court for Crimes in Darfur (SCCD), amendment of Sudan’s Criminal Code of 1991 to make provisions for crimes against humanity, genocide, and crimes pertaining to the conduct of hostilities, as well as related provisions in Sudan’s Armed Forces Act 2007,” the report said.

“The report paints a very grim picture of the systemic failure, or outright refusal, by the authorities to take human rights violations seriously,” the top UN human rights officials said.

It also “documents violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, including indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilian areas resulting in deaths and injuries, burning of villages, and destruction of other civilian property and means of sustaining livelihood.”

High Commissioner Zeid said the UN stands ready to continue to assist the Government to ensure accountability and victims’ rights to redress, but that it was ultimately a question of political will.

“I urge both the Government and opposition movements to cooperate with the investigation and prosecution of violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law, including with the International Criminal Court,” he said, also urging the Sudanese Government and armed opposition groups to take the findings of this report very seriously and to prioritize the fight against impunity.

The report provides recommendations to the Government and the armed opposition movements to strengthen accountability mechanisms to combat impunity and enhance access to justice in Darfur.