Home | News    Monday 17 November 2014

Sudan again blocks UNAMID investigation into Darfur mass rape claims

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November 16, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government said it denied an investigation team from the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) access for the second time to the village of Tabit in North Darfur state to investigate recent claims of mass rape of some 200 women by Sudanese military personnel.

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Peacekeepers from the hybrid UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in the North Darfur capital, El-Fasher, on 5 July 2010 (Photo: Getty Images)

Sudan’s foreign ministry in a statement on Sunday said the UNAMID team was denied access to Tabit because it violated the agreement it concluded with the foreign ministry on Friday.

On Friday, the Sudanese foreign ministry summoned the acting head of UNAMID Abiodun Bashua to protest the mission’s handling of the alleged incident in Tabit.

The statement added that Bashua told the foreign ministry undersecretary, Abdallah al-Azraq, that UNAMID seeks to visit Tabit again to follow-up on its preliminary mission and it will make a request to that end on or after Monday, saying he was told that the foreign ministry will look into the request and inform them of the government decision in this regard.

It said that several contacts were made between the Sudanese government, the UN and UNAMID, adding that the government’s position was that the latter investigated the incident and found no evidence proving the rape claims.

It also added that Sudan is skeptical about the motives behind UNAMID’s insistence to visit the village for the second time.

On Monday, UNAMID said its investigation team found no evidence proving the rape claims.

However, western media quoted UN officials as saying that the mission said in a secret report to the UN headquarters that witnesses were intimidated by the heavy presence of the Sudanese army during the investigation.

The statement further said that UNAMID violated its agreement with the foreign ministry and made a request to the authorities in North Darfur on Saturday to visit Tabit, noting that the mission also did not notify the foreign ministry of the request, according to the agreement.

It added that UNAMID embarked on moving towards Tabit after it was granted approval by the local authorities in North Darfur and without notifying the foreign ministry, saying the move meant that the mission disavowed the agreement.

“Mass rape claims were met with intense resentment and anger from the residents of Tabit and neighboring villages which created a state of tension in the area. The people in Tabit became hostile to UNAMID because the reputation of the innocent and chaste women was hurt by these allegations,” it added.

The foreign ministry added the security situation in the area is alarming and deadly confrontations are imminent and that is why “the government of Sudan decided not to allow the mission to visit the village once again”.

It underscored Sudan’s commitment to cooperate with the mission according to the legal bases agreed upon between the two sides.

The statement pointed the government allowed the investigation team access to Tabit although it was convinced of the absurdity of these allegations because large number of the soldiers of the military garrison in Tabit are married from women in the village or have families there.

“It is impossible that the military personnel turn into predatory monsters who rape all women of the village,” it added

It mentioned that the government commissioned the special prosecutor for crimes in Darfur to conduct a comprehensive investigation on these claims.

The Sudanese army vehemently denied these rape accusations, describing reports about the incident as “baseless and without justification”.

(ST)

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