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UN Independent Expert calls on Sudan to protect the rights of civilians in Darfur

GENEVA/KHARTOUM (22 February 2017) – The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, has called on the Government in Khartoum to protect the rights of civilians in war-torn Darfur.

The region has been engulfed in a civil conflict since 2003 with hundreds of thousands of displaced people still living in camps.

Mr Nononsi was speaking at the end of a 12-day mission during which he held talks with people living in the village of Adi Kong in western Darfur state.

“This community remains anxious about the security situation in the area,” he said. “Its members want enhanced protection of civilians by the authorities as well as basic services, including access to water, education and health care. It is essential for the Government, with the support of its international partners, to effectively protect the rights of civilians in a sustainable manner,” Mr Nononsi stressed.

The Independent Expert also visited Sorotony Camp in northern Darfur, which provides shelter for people who have fled the fighting. He described the conditions of the displaced people living there as “precarious”.

Some of the residents spoke of living in a state of insecurity because of “armed elements” and of criminality both inside and outside the camp. Sexual and gender-based violence was also a serious concern in the Camp, added Mr. Nononsi.

He said information suggested the attacks were being carried out by armed individuals either outside the Camp when the women were doing their daily work, or inside it when they had returned.

Nine cases of rape were reported in the Sorotony Camp between 27 January and 18 February. But, Mr Nononsi said many other incidents of sexual violence were not reported because of fear of the social stigma associated with rape. Women were also afraid to speak out, he said, because they feared reprisal. The absence of law enforcement institutions in Sorotony to effectively investigate and prosecute the rapists made matters even worse.

Ending his visit to Sudan, Mr Nononsi said: “I urge the Government, which bears the primary responsibility to protect civilians within its territory, to promptly conduct investigations to bring the perpetrators to justice. I also urge the authorities in Khartoum to abide by the UN Security Council call for enhanced cooperation with the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), in its efforts to protect civilians in Darfur.”

ENDS

Mr. Aristide Nononsi (Benin) was designated as the new Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. Mr. Nononsi has a doctorate in law and is a specialist in international law, human rights and development, with extensive experience in international and African organizations. Mr. Nononsi was executive director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), and worked for the Centre for Development Area Studies at Mc Gill University, the African Development Bank and the International Labour Organization.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Sudan 

For more information and press inquiries, please contact:
In Khartoum (during the visit): Mr. Khaled Moualem (+249 (0) 912 100 501 / khaled.moualem@one.un.org) and Mr. Ayman Suliman (+2419 (0) 912 179 766 / suliman37@un.org)
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Mr. Dieudonne Munyinga (+41 22 928 9231 / dmunyinga@ohchr.org) or write to iesudan@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / mediaconsultant1@ohchr.org)  

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