UN Darfur investigator named

The United Nations' top human rights body has condemned "widespread and systematic" violations in Sudan's Darfur and given itself greater powers to investigate abuses there.

    Almost two million have been forced out of homes in Darfur

    In a toughening of its stance, the 53-member Commission on Human Rights on Thursday appointed a special investigator to "monitor the situation of human rights" and report back to the UN General Assembly and the Geneva-based commission.

     

    "The commission is, unlike last year, doing its job responsibly," said Senator Rudy Boschwitz, who leads the US delegation to the annual human rights session.

     

    In 2004, the commission stopped short of condemning Sudan over allegations of widespread abuse, despite a UN report accusing Sudanese troops and their alleged militia allies of raping, killing and torturing Darfurians.

     

    Since then the UN Security Council has increased pressure on Khartoum to contain the violence in the western Darfur region, which intensified after rebel groups took up arms in early 2003.

     

    War crimes

     

    It voted to refer those suspected of war crimes to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

     

    The resolution was hammered out in lengthy negotiations between the European Union and African states, which are traditionally suspicious of attempts to single out individual countries for criticism.

     

    Food shortages in Darfur are
    growing more acute

    The Europeans toned down some of the language they wanted, and in return the Africans agreed to strengthen international monitoring with the appointment of a special rapporteur.

     

    In the text, the commission said it "condemns the continued, widespread and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law".

     

    It called on Khartoum to disarm the militias and bring to justice all those involved in human rights violations, while also condemning violence by "all parties", by which it meant rebel groups, although they were not named.

     

    The fighting has killed tens of thousands and forced nearly two million from their homes in the remote region. Food shortages are growing more acute.

     

    The death toll from hunger and disease over the past year is put at more than 180,000 people by UN officials.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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