Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 7 News List

UN probe reveals regime plays role in Sudan executions

REUTERS , KHARTOUM

The head of the U.N. children's charity UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, second from right, visits a school compound at a refugee camp in Sudan on Sunday. The UN special rapporteur on executions, Asma Jahangir, said on the same day that she had ?

A senior UN official said on Sunday she had "credible information" that Sudanese forces and government-backed militias had carried out summary executions of civilians in west Sudan.

Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur on executions, also said after visiting conflict-stricken Darfur that members of the militia, which locals accuse of looting and killing villagers, were being integrated into the armed forces.

Independent rights groups have already accused the government and militia, known as "janjaweed," of carrying out mass executions in the region where rebels launched an armed uprising in February 2003.

Fighting in the remote area has affected two million people and driven 158,000 people across the border into Chad, creating what the UN has called one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

"I received numerous accounts of the extrajudicial and summary executions carried out by government-backed militias and by the security forces themselves," Jahangir told reporters.

"According to credible information, members of the armed forces, the Popular Defense Forces and various groups of government-sponsored militias attacked villagers and summarily executed civilians," she said in Khartoum.

Rights groups have accused the government of arming the Arab militia to drive African villagers from their homes in what UN officials have called a campaign of ethnic cleansing. The government calls the militia members outlaws and denies any link.

"According to the information I collected, many of the militias are being integrated into the regular armed or the Popular Defense Forces. There is no ambiguity that there is a link between some of the militias and government forces," Jahangir said.

Jahangir also travelled around other areas of Sudan, including Malakal in the south. The Sudanese government is close to reaching a final peace deal with southern rebels to end a separate 21-year-old conflict in that region.

"In my report, I will forcefully stress the question of accountability as a fundamental principle in addressing violations of human rights... The government of the Sudan must make every effort to end the culture of impunity," she said.

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