GENEVA, (Reuters) – The United Nations’ top human rights body on Friday kept up the pressure on Sudan over Darfur, but stopped short of explicitly blaming Khartoum for widespread killings and rape in the vast western region.
A resolution, passed unanimously by the 47-state Human Rights Council after days of hard negotiations, expressed deep concern at the “seriousness of ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur”. “This is the strongest statement that the Council has yet made on Darfur and the strongest it has made on any situation outside the Middle East,” said one Western diplomat. “It talks about violations and that means the Sudanese state, because in human rights law only states can commit violations,” the diplomat added.
More than 200,000 people are believed to have died and some 2.5 million have been driven from their homes into squalid camps since simmering ethnic conflict erupted into revolt in 2003.
The Council asked a group of six of its special investigators on human rights violations to work with Sudan on implementing the recommendations of various human rights probes into the situation in Darfur, and to report back in June.
Among the documents to be considered by the team will be a report by a mission of inquiry submitted to the Council earlier this month which accused Khartoum of “orchestrating and participating” in systematic violations of humanitarian law.
Khartoum, which rejects charges by the United States and others of genocide in Darfur, blames rebel groups which have refused to sign a 2006 peace deal for continuing abuses in the vast territory the size of France.
It is resisting Western calls for a U.N. peacekeeping force to be deployed in support of 7,000 under-financed monitors from the African Union who have been unable to stem the violence.
The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) has summoned a junior government minister and a Darfur militia leader to answer war crimes charges in a first step towards bringing to trial those deemed responsible for atrocities, including mass rape and murder.