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Sudan rejects UN calls for another investigation into mass rape claims

November 19, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has officially rejected a call by UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon to allow the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to conduct another investigation into recent claims of the mass rape of some 200 women by Sudanese military personnel in the village of Tabit in North Darfur state.

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United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon speaks to the media following a UN Security Council meeting on the crises in both Syria and South Sudan (Photo: Getty Images)

Ban said in a statement released on Monday that he is “deeply troubled” by the mass rape allegations, stressing that only a full investigation by the UNAMID will help shed light on the incident.

He urged the Sudanese government to grant the mission unfettered access without further delay to Tabit and its population.

On Tuesday, the acting head of UNAMID, Abiodun Bashua, Bashua, said the mission intends to conduct another investigation in Tabit to put an end to recent “rumors”, underscoring that the investigation is in the interest of the government, UNAMID and the people of the village who were affected by these rumors.

Sudan’s foreign ministry undersecretary, Abdalla al-Azrag, in press statements on Wednesday, asked Ban to investigate mass rape in countries other than Sudan, underscoring that such practices do not take place in his country.

Al-Azrag urged Ban not to waste the UN resources on investigating claims made by a radio well-known for its fabrications, saying the UN and UNAMID had previously complained about the incredibility of that radio.

He was alluding to Radio Dabanga, a radio station headquartered in the Netherlands with a team of local reporters in Darfur, which was the first media outlet to report the mass rape allegations.

The Sudanese official further pointed that the special prosecutor for crimes in Darfur, Yasser Ahmed Mohamed, is currently present in the village to conduct a comprehensive, fair and impartial probe, emphasising that the findings will be published immediately upon completion of the investigation.

He expressed surprise at UNAMID’s request to conduct another investigation after it has earlier been given access to the village and its population, stressing that villagers protested these allegations and became hostile towards the mission.

Al-Azrag said the foreign ministry officially informed UNAMID that raising this issue again may have dire consequences, stressing there are no guarantees that the angry villagers would not clash with the mission’s team.

He went on to say the Sudanese government fears worsening of the situation in the area, reiterating refusal of allegations of sexual assault against the women of Tabit.

The Sudanese official further said it is illogical that all military personnel turn into predatory monsters, stressing that the available information shows that the number of the villagers is by far less than the number of those claimed to be raped.

On Sunday, the Sudanese government said it denied UNAMID’s team access to Tabit, mentioning that it is skeptical about the motives behind its insistence to visit the village for the second time.

Last week, a UNAMID verification team investigated these allegations and said it 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 Sudanese army vehemently denied these rape accusations, describing reports about the incident as “baseless and without justification”.

(ST)