Witnesses also testified that the Sudanese armed forces were directly involved in the abduction of women and children, who subsequently become sex slaves and domestic workers for soldiers in the capital, Khartoum.

Captives transported overnight

A senior Sudanese politician, who is quoted in the report but asked to remain anonymous, said: "The army captured many children and women hiding in the bush outside burnt villages.

"They were transported by plane to Khartoum at night and divided up among soldiers as domestic workers and, in some cases, wives."

Dismas Nkunda, co-chair of the consortium, said the government had "comprehensively failed to prevent abductions and other human rights violations taking place against the civilian population of Darfur".

"When they captured me, they beat me regularly... they were treating me and the other boys very badly, they kept telling us that we are not human beings"

Abducted child

The Sudanese government rejected the allegations, branding the report "naïve" and revealing the "ignorance of its authors".

"The government does not condone abductions and it is not government policy," said Ali al-Sadig, Sudan's foreign ministry spokesman.

"We are working hard to stop such violations. The rebel factions are mostly to blame for abductions in Darfur."

The report concludes that "at an absolute minimum" many hundreds of people have been seized and forced into slavery, with the "true figure likely to be in the thousands", since the Darfur conflict began in 2003.

'Strengthen peacekeeping effort'

The authors have called on the Sudanese government to finally disband the militias and allow the joint African Union and United Nations peacekeeping troops to use force to protect civilians, as well as raising their number from 9,479 to 26,000.

The report also calls on the government to punish abductions, noting "there has not been a single successful conviction for any of the abductions carried out in Darfur".

One child said he was one of 12 boys taken by Janjawid militia fighters and forced to work on a farm.

Ali al-Sadig, Sudan's foreign ministry spokesman, branded the report 'naive' [AFP]
"When they captured me, they beat me regularly, and they ordered me to look after their animals, they were treating me and the other boys very badly, they kept telling us that we are not human beings and we are here to serve them," he said.

Another boy from South Darfur told the report's authors he was kidnapped by an officer in the Sudanese army and brought to Khartoum in December last year.

"I was the first to get up and the last to go to bed. Normally I woke up very early, about 5am, cleaned the house, washed the dishes, and then washed clothes and ironed them. I worked all day. I was so tired," he said.

A woman told the group she was abducted from a camp for internally displaced persons along with 20 other people, including 14 men.

"They used us like their wives in the night and during the day time we worked all the time - preparing food, collecting firewood and fetching water from nearby. The men they abducted with us were used to look after their livestock. We worked all day, all week with no rest," she said.

During the past two years, the report authors interviewed about 100 people seized and forced to work as labourers or sex slaves since 2003.

The group estimates as many as 300,000 people have died in Darfur since the conflict began in 2003 – with 2.7 million forced to flee their homes.