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Sudan unable to try Darfur suspects - UN

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Mar 6, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan’s special court for Darfur is not able to try Sudanese officials responsible for war crimes and authorities continue to abuse freedom of expression, a top U.N. rights official said on Monday.

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Sima Samar

Sima Samar, the U.N. special rapporteur on Sudan, also said after a 10-day visit to Sudan that intelligence services continue to carry out arbitrary arrests, detention and torture with impunity.

"Freedom of expression and association unfortunately continue to be abused by the national intelligence services or military intelligence," she told reporters in Khartoum.

She added arrests and torture have been documented in Khartoum, North Kordofan, and also in the remote Darfur region and the east, where emergency law is still in place.

Samar said security services should reform to comply with a new constitution adopted last year after a peace deal ended more than two decades of civil war in Sudan’s south.

That deal created a new coalition government and enshrined basic freedoms and democratic transformation. But its implementation has been slow.

The southern deal does not cover a separate conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur reigon, where tens of thousands have been killed and more than 2 million forced from their homes by a widespread campaign of rape, looting and murder, which Washington calls genocide.

Khartoum rejects the charge but the International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating alleged war crimes there.

Sudan says it will not allow ICC investigators to work in Darfur, and set up special Darfur courts which it says were a substitute for the ICC.

But Samar said the courts had not yet tried anyone with command responsibility for crimes in Darfur. She had only been given a list of 15 officers from the police and army who had been tried for crimes between 1991 and 2003, before the Darfur conflict even began.

"We did ask for information and they didn’t provide much information so that means that maybe they are not able to bring anybody to justice," she said.

Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing Khartoum of neglect. The United Nations says the government then armed Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, who rampaged through civilian villages, burning and looting at will.

Khartoum admits arming some tribes, but denies any links to the Janjaweed.

(Reuters)

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