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USA criticises Sudan for obstructing UN inquiry into mass rape

February 15 - 2015 NEW YORK
Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the USA to the UN speaks at a Security Council meeting in New York, March 2014 (kyivpost)
Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the USA to the UN speaks at a Security Council meeting in New York, March 2014 (kyivpost)

On Thursday, the USA sharply criticised Sudan for obstructing a UN investigation into “credible allegations of mass rape in the conflict-torn Darfur region”.

Speaking at the UN Security Council, Permanent Representative of the USA to the UN, Samantha Power referred to the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), released on Wednesday, which accused Sudanese soldiers of raping at least 221 women and girls in the village of Tabit over the course of three days at the end of October last year.

“There are so many more villages that have been the victims of unspeakable atrocities over the past decade in Darfur,” she said, stressing Sudan’s use of rape a weapon.

The Security Council, Power stated, has to rely on investigations by non-governmental organisations like HRW because Khartoum had “systematically denied meaningful access” to Unamid.

“To this day, the government of Sudan has shamefully denied the UN the ability to properly investigate this incident,” she told the 15-nation council.

HRW's Philippe Bolopion, however, told reporters on Wednesday that lack of access cannot be the reason for not conducting a UN investigation. He said HRW spoke with victims and other credible sources by telephone to gather evidence.

Sudan denies the mass rape took place. Sudanese Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Hassan Hamid Hassan, dismissed the contents of the HRW report and Power's speech as “a flagrant attempt to level accusations”.

He said that Unamid has never accused Khartoum for mass rape in Tabit, and stressed that Unamid officers “were not denied access”.

US Representative Power addressed the Security Council, after it had renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts of the Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March 2016. The Panel monitors compliance with the UN arms embargo, and other Darfur-related sanctions. The unanimously adopted resolution also threatened to add anyone involved in attacks on Unamid peacekeepers to a UN sanctions blacklist.

Power cited the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Darfur, and South Kordofan, and accused the government of openly violating the arms embargo.

(Source: Louis Charbonneau/Reuters)

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