‘War crimes committed in South Kordofan’

The UN human rights office says atrocities committed in the state in June could amount to crimes against humanity

The UN human rights office says atrocities committed in the state in June could amount to crimes against humanity

Violations of international criminal law and international humanitarian law which are alleged to have taken place in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state in June “could amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes,” according to a report released by the UN human rights office on Monday.

The 12-page report, covering the period June 5-30, 2011, describes a wide range of alleged violations of international law in the town of Kadugli, as well as in the surrounding Nuba mountains, after fighting broke out in Kadugli on June 5 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army North (SPLA-N).

“This is a preliminary report produced under very challenging circumstances and with very limited access to affected areas,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, whose office produced the report jointly with the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS). “However what it suggests has been happening in Southern Kordofan is so serious that it is essential there is an independent, thorough and objective inquiry with the aim of holding perpetrators to account.”

Reported violations included “extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, enforced disappearances, attacks against civilians, looting of civilian homes and destruction of property,” as well as massive displacement.

The United Nations had reported earlier this year that over 200,000 civilians had fled the Nuba Mountains owing to mass killings in the region. In July, reports of mass graves surfaced from Kadugli.

The report released on Monday also describes aerial bombardments on civilian areas in Kadugli and elsewhere in Southern Kordofan which, it says, have resulted in “significant loss of life.”

“The SAF regularly conducted aerial bombardments in the Nuba Mountains, and in several towns and villages populated by the Nuba,” the report adds, noting among the specific bombing incidents cited a number of SAF airstrikes on airstrips used by humanitarian organizations.

Both the SAF and the SPLA-N are reported to have laid anti-personnel mines in Kadugli town, the report says.

It also describes widespread looting by elements of the Popular Defence Force (a militia allied with the SAF), alleged attacks on churches, the burning of houses in Nuba villages, interference with medical and humanitarian assistance and allegations of the existence of several mass graves in Kadugli itself and in a number of villages in the region.