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UN urges probe into possible war crimes in Southern Kordofan


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UN urges probe into possible war crimes in Southern Kordofan

2011-08-15 22:11:54 GMT+7 (ICT)

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) -- The United Nations (UN) on Monday urged an independent investigation into possible crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Sudan's Southern Kordofan state in June.

Fighting broke out in the Southern Kordofan town of Kadugli on June 5 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army North (SPLA-N), but according to a UN report, a wide range of alleged violations of international law were committed in the town, as well as in the surrounding Nuba mountains.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the former UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) says in its preliminary report that extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, enforced disappearances, attacks against civilians, looting of civilian homes and destruction of property took place in the region, resulting in massive displacements.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noted that the preliminary report was produced under very challenging circumstances and with very limited access to the affected areas. However, she stated, it suggests that an independent inquiry is carried out as the situation is "serious."

From June 5 to 30, aerial bombardments on civilian areas in Kadugli, the Nuba Mountains, and other areas such as villages and airstrips used by humanitarian organizations in Southern Kordofan were carried out, according to the report, which states that the attacks resulted in "significant loss of life."

It also describes widespread looting by elements of the Popular Defense Force - a militia allied with the SAF - alleged attacks on churches, the burning of houses in Nuba villages, interference with medical and humanitarian assistance and allegations of the existence of several mass graves in Kadugli itself and in a number of villages in the region.

The investigations would target verifying reports of possible use of chemical weapons and the existence of mass graves, as well as holding perpetrators to account, the OHCHR said, adding that most, but not all, of the violations and allegations have been attributed to the SAF, the Central Reserve Police or their militia allies.

"It is vital that unhindered access is granted to human rights monitors to conduct investigations into allegations of continuing violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and to humanitarian actors trying to bring relief to the affected populations whose access has also been severely restricted by both sides," Pillay stated.

The report describes a number of specific individual detentions and disappearances – including some women and children – as well as "a series of extrajudicial killings targeted at people who were affiliated with the SPLA-N and SPLM, most of whom allegedly were from the Nuba communities." It also notes a long list of attacks and harassment of UN staff - especially those of Nuban descent - as well as the dropping of bombs near UNMIS positions.

"These flagrant and repeated violations of international conventions as well as specific agreements with the Government of Sudan concerning the privileges and immunities under which the UN operates are an extremely serious matter which cannot be left unresolved or unpunished," the UN High Commissioner underlined.

In addition, Pillay urged the Sudanese Government to immediately release any UN staff who are still in custody, as well as all other detainees who have not committed any crime.

Southern Kordofan lies in Sudan but borders the newly independent South Sudan. The mandate of UNMIS came to an end after South Sudan became its own nation on July 9, and the new mission does not have a mandate to operate in Sudan.


-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-08-15

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