Tag Archives: SUDAN

Sudan allows some overseas participation in conflict-torn state


The Sudanese government has agreed to involve some U.N. agencies and other international aid groups in assessing humanitarian needs in the state of South Kordofan.

The announcement, made on Sunday (Feb. 19) by social welfare minister Amira Al-Fadil, is the latest concession of the Sudanese government to international pressure to give foreign aid agencies greater access to the conflict-torn states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The minister did stress that the United Nations and its partners must abide by conditions set by the Sudanese government and local officials of South Kordofan, the Sudan Tribune reports. International agencies will also have no direct involvement in aid delivery, the news agency adds.

Al-Fadil’s announcement came as U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos released a statement where she expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the two Sudanese states. She urged the Sudanese government and the rebel group Sudan People’s Liberal Movement-North to heed a joint proposal by the United Nations, African Union and the Arab League for immediate aid access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

http://www.devex.com/en/blogs/the-development-newswire/sudan-allows-some-foreign-aid-involvement-in-conflict-torn-state

KOMEN

Selatan Sudan dan Sudan adalah dua negara yang aku jangka akan menghasilkan banyak konflik dan persengketaan, pertamanya, penubuhan Selatan Sudan adalah sesuatu yang sukar sebenarnya untuk diterima oleh penduduk Sudan. Kedua, asas agama pemerintah juga menjadi satu aspek dimana pemberitaan, pelaporan, huluran bantuan dan sebagainya akan sentiasa menjadi berat sebelah. Ini adalah bibit awal, dan aku tak terkejut, US akan turut campur tangan dalam sedikit masa lagi…

SHAHRUL PESHAWAR

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SOUTH SUDAN: Worsening food crisis

JUBA, 20 February 2012 (IRIN) – An already dire food situation in South Sudan could deteriorate amid growing economic problems, food shortages and a mass influx of people fleeing Sudan in the next two months, agencies warn.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said that in South Sudan’s first year of statehood, half the population of about nine million people could face hunger.

Their Crop and Food Security Assessment report shows that for 2012, 4.7 million people will be food-insecure, up 1.4 million from last year, and the number of severely food-insecure will hit almost one million from 900,000 in 2011.

South Sudan will only produce about half the food it needs, with a cereal deficit of 470,000MT due to erratic rains and internal conflict displacing many away from fields.

Last month, a huge wave of ethnic violence in South Sudan’s largest state, Jonglei, affected more than 140,000 people and until peace talks are organized, the situation remains precarious.

In addition to a poor harvest, huge waves of returnees from Sudan or refugees fleeing violence across the border have compounded food shortages.

“If conflict continues to cause major population displacements and food prices keep rising, the report estimates that the number of people who are severely food-insecure could double,” a joint FAO-WFP statement warned.

“This is a rapidly approaching crisis that the world cannot afford to ignore,” said Chris Nikoi, WFP’s country director in South Sudan.

South Sudan’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Joseph Lual Achuil, urged people to try to salvage what they could from the planting season before the rains come or 1.7 million people would be “severely affected by starvation”.

“If we don’t do our best in order to rescue the situation now, 4.7 million will be without food, and if they are without food before the rain, after the rain what is going to happen? We are going to have a disaster,” he said.

Time and money running out

Food prices have skyrocketed since major trading partner Sudan closed its border months before South Sudan gained independence, with food from neighbouring countries hit by rising fuel prices, transportation costs and illegal taxation.

George Mabany, an aid worker in Bentiu, state capital of the oil-rich Unity state near Sudan’s border, said prices had tripled since May, when Sudanese troops occupied the contested region of Abyei and the borders closed.

Mabany said 1kg of grain had doubled in price to 100 pounds (US$28) as all food was now being trucked up from Uganda. The price of 50kg of sugar had tripled to 85 pounds ($24), he said.

Items such as eggs and onions were no longer available and while the market had a small amount of fruits and vegetables, nobody could afford them.

Depreciation of the South Sudanese pound has also caused a hike in prices. Dependent on oil for 98 percent of its revenues, South Sudan’s decision in late January to halt oil production in a bitter row with Sudan over transit fees could spark rampant inflation.

WFP only has about a third of the $250m needed to reach a planned 2.7m people this year, and only has a few months until the rains start to bring in enough food before large parts of the country are inaccessible by truck.

“Come May, the logistics capacity of moving large stocks around doesn’t exist any more because of the rains and the poor logistics of the country,” said Ramiro Lopes da Silva, deputy director of WFP. “At the moment, we don’t have enough money even for what we have planned already.”

“The situation is dire, and we are doing everything we can to be ready, but we are running out of time,” Nikoi said.

Fleeing starvation

Up to 500,000 people in two of Sudan’s war-torn border states could flee southwards when the rains come and there is nothing left from last year’s poor harvest.

Conflict broke out in South Kordofan in June when government forces clashed with those formerly loyal to South Sudan, and spread to neighbouring Blue Nile in September.

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir has refused to allow aid agencies into conflict areas, and frequent aerial bombardment and violence have forced more than 417,000 people to flee their homes and fields, according to the UN.

Some 80,000 people have already crossed into South Sudan, many suffering from malnutrition, malaria and pneumonia after months of hiding in the bush and scavenging food.

Princeton Lyman, US envoy to the two Sudans, has warned of an imminent famine if there is no intervention.

“What you have now is a sense of urgency. In a couple of months we are in what is typically the hunger season, both in Sudan and South Sudan, and obviously the impact on those populations is potentially very serious,” Da Silva said.

Rights group Amnesty International said that even six months ago, people scattered in the bush were surviving on dwindling food supplies and wild fruits.

“Civilians continue to live in precarious conditions with insufficient food, shelter or access to healthcare and in fear of being bombed. It is essential for the civilian population from these two areas to receive impartial humanitarian assistance,” AI’s UN ambassador Renzo Pomi said.

“There is a sense of urgency that the window for an effective intervention with the populations where they are is narrowing,” said Da Silva on negotiations with the North.

WFP has also been stopped from accessing stocks in Sudan to bring south of the border, so it is trucking food all the way from the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

Fears of mass deportations

Aid agencies are also extremely concerned about the fate of up to 700,000 southerners still thought to be living in the north, who face a deadline to get legal or get out by 8 April.

As relations sour between the two nations, there are fears that hundreds of thousands of people could descend on the impoverished south within months.

But provisions for how southerners can legalize themselves have yet to be made, while Khartoum has closed the port of Kosti where barges packed with thousands of people leave for the South.

South Sudan says trains have also been prevented from leaving, while the other options of flying and trucking people through dangerous territory filled with mines are unworkable for the numbers and time limit.

The UN has appealed for $763m for South Sudan in 2012, but says more will likely be needed with the expectation of more crises, while aid agencies are already struggling with the current caseload.

“Of course we’re not ready for any kind of major movement from the north to south, considering what we’re dealing with in South Sudan already – capacity is already extremely stretched,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, said recently.

“I think that everyone needs to recognize that if we do have to face those challenges in the next two to three months, our resources will be extremely stretched,” she added.

http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=94908

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Expulsion of aid groups from Darfur will have wide impact, UN agencies warn

Adding their voices to the deep concern expressed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over the ordered departure of at least 13 aid organizations from Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, UN humanitarian agencies warned today that the effects could shake the region.

Sudan’s decision to begin ejecting the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) came Wednesday, immediately after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Al-Bashir for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

The Secretary-General is currently contacting the leaders of the African Union (AU) and the League of Arab States, along with others in the region to follow up on his appeal to the Government of Sudan to reconsider its decision, according to his spokesperson.

“With some 4.7 million Sudanese – including 2.7 million internally displaced – already receiving assistance in Darfur, we are very concerned over the prospect of new population movements in the region should the fragile aid lifeline inside Sudan be disrupted,” Ron Redmond, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said today in Geneva.

Noting that there are also 40,000 Chadian refugees in West Darfur, he said: “Our experience shows that when vulnerable populations are unable to get the help they need, they go elsewhere in search of protection and assistance.”

Support for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur keeps them as close to home as possible and relieves pressure on neighbouring Chad, where UNHCR and its partners are already caring for nearly 250,000 refugees from Darfur, he explained.

These isolated camps and the remote communities surrounding them are already struggling to provide the basics needed to sustain those refugees in addition to some 180,000 IDPs in eastern Chad.

“Any influx to Chad would be an additional challenge for UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies because of ongoing insecurity and instability in the country, as well as limited resources such as water,” Mr. Redmond said.

In addition to some 3 million displaced, an estimated 300,000 people have died in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed, since 2003.

With such major actors as Oxfam, Care International, International Rescue Committee and Save the Children, and some 6,500 staff, affected, a UN relief official said yesterday that the expulsions will cut humanitarian capabilities in Darfur by at least one half.

Among other agencies speaking out today, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said the decision could lead to the increase of mortality and morbidity due to the interruption of health services, the decline of immunization coverage and the lack of therapeutic feeding and nutrition services for children.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said its main concerns were in areas of water and sanitation, and nutrition and health. It was doing what it could to ensure that its programmes continued, whether by using NGOs whose licenses had not been revoked or new partners.

The UN Security Council is expected to hear a briefing from Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg later today on the latest developments and the humanitarian impact of the Sudanese decision.

Meanwhile, according to the AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), several instances of banditry targeting the Mission’s personnel and aid groups were reported across the Darfur region. UNAMID is investigating the incidents.

The Mission said that during the last 24 hours, UNAMID military forces conducted some 35 patrols, covering 42 villages and IDP camps throughout the troubled region of western Sudan.

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UN humanitarian chief calls for continued cooperation in Sudan

(Khartoum, 30 November 2008): John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, concluded his six day visit to Sudan by reiterating the importance of protection of civilians and urging improved cooperation with the Government of Sudan in facilitating humanitarian assistance in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan.

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The ERC commended the GoS on the decision to extend the Moratorium on Fast Track Procedures for humanitarian workers in Darfur until 31 January 2010, and looked forward to rapid progress on its practical application. He also looked forward to further practical cooperation on the ground to enhance the delivery of vital assistance for 4.7 million conflict affected people, and to help humanitarian organizations to operate in Darfur, for example through easier visa procedures for NGO workers.

“What we need above all in Darfur is a comprehensive ceasefire followed by a rapid peace settlement. But as long as we don’t have peace so that people can return home, the humanitarian response will be needed,” said Mr.Holmes. “The key issue remains protection on all levels; protection of civilians particularly women and children, safety and security for aid workers and respect for the fundamental principles of humanitarianism to enable us to continue assisting those affected by conflict and natural disaster,” added Mr. Holmes.

During his visit, Mr. Holmes held meetings with the Government, UN agencies, international and national non-governmental organizations, and donors. He visited all three Darfur states to see at first hand the humanitarian situation. Darfur remains the largest humanitarian operation in the world, where UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and NGOs work jointly with government in efforts to assist 4.7 million conflict affected people, including 2.7 million internally displaced. Of the 16,400 humanitarian aid workers in Darfur, ninety-four percent are Sudanese citizens.

The ERC also emphasized the challenging security environment which Darfur poses. So far this year we have seen 11 killed; 261 vehicles hijacked; 172 assaults on premises; 35 ambushes/lootings of convoys; 189 staff abducted; 28 wounded; and 25 relocations.

“Our ability to continue to assist people is hampered if humanitarians also become the victims of attacks. It is unacceptable that we have double the attacks on aid workers than we had this time last year. The GoS have a responsibility to protect humanitarian workers, but it is the rebel movements and those linked to them who appear to be responsible for most of these attacks. I call on them to stop this kind of banditry and criminality once and for all,” said the ERC.

Whilst in Darfur, Mr. Holmes visited Kalma camp in south Darfur as well as Hamadiya and Taiba camps near Zalingei in East West Darfur. Both areas have suffered huge environmental degradation resulting in part from the ongoing conflict.

“In a long-running complex emergency, protecting the environment becomes also a part of the humanitarian mission,” added Mr. Holmes. “We cannot simply wait to take action until after a political settlement is reached as it will be too late.”

The Emergency Relief Coordinator also visited those displaced by violent confrontations in Abyei and met the new Abyei Administrator and his deputy, who now have to implement the roadmap on steps to restore normality, assure security and reconciliation between communities, and enable the displaced to return to the town.

On a two day visit to Juba, the ERC was updated on the enormous challenges facing the south. He urged donors to continue their funding to confront critical humanitarian and recovery issues, particularly in the health sector, and encouraged the Government of Southern Sudan themselves to step up their efforts to provide basic services and develop key sectors such as agriculture.

On 20 November, the United Nations and Partners Workplan 2009 for Sudan was launched requesting $2.2 billion overall across ten critical sectors.

For further information, please call: Orla Clinton, OCHA Sudan, 00 249 912174454. Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570. OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or http://www.reliefweb.int.

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Sudan: New Darfur Attacks Show Civilians Still at Risk

Fighting Underscores Lack of Protection for Civilians

(New York, October 24, 2008) – Sudanese forces and government-backed militias attacked more than a dozen villages in operations against rebel forces near Muhajariya, South Darfur, between October 5 and 17, 2008, Human Rights Watch said today. The fighting, in which more than 40 civilians were killed, shows that the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) still lacks the capacity to protect vulnerable civilians.

During the same period, President Omar al-Bashir told the media that life was “very normal in Darfur,” and announced a new peace initiative with much fanfare in North Darfur.  
 
“Once again, civilians are bearing the brunt of fighting in Darfur, and the peacekeepers cannot protect them,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Life in Darfur is far from ‘normal.’”  
 
According to local sources, government-backed “Janjaweed” militias attacked more than 13 villages and settlements around Muhajariya, 80 kilometers east of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, killing more than 40 civilians, burning homes, and stealing livestock. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that armed Janjaweed on horses and camels surrounded villages and were followed by government forces in vehicles mounted with weapons.  
 
Muhajariya has long been a stronghold for the Minni Minawi faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and has been attacked many times over the course of the Darfur conflict.  
 
Human Rights Watch has not been able to determine whether government forces clashed with rebels during these attacks. On October 5 and 7, government forces and Janjaweed attacked Sineit village, 16 kilometers southeast of Muhajariya, killing nine civilians. On October 6, Janjaweed attacked Brangal village, 12 kilometers northeast of Muhajariya, resulting in seven civilian deaths. On October 8, they attacked Kilekile and villages in the Mijelit area, northwest of Sineit, resulting in an unconfirmed number of deaths. Rebels from Unity faction of the SLA reported that they clashed with government and Janjaweed forces only after the initial attacks, between October 13 and 17.  
 
As a result of the attacks, thousands of villagers fled to the towns of Muhajariya and Shearia, and have yet to return home. Reliable sources reported more than 40 casualties from the attacks and fighting. However, the full extent and circumstances of civilian casualties remain largely unknown. After gunmen shot at a UNAMID convoy on October 14, UNAMID forces have not tried to enter the area. In recent months, UNAMID has increasingly become the target of attacks and banditry, including in South Darfur. The mission has deployed less than half of the 26,000 military and police mandated by UN Security Council Resolution on July 31, 2007, and is still missing critical equipment, including attack helicopters.  
 
On July 14, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requested an arrest warrant for President al-Bashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur. Since then, Sudan has repeatedly tried to persuade other countries that the security situation on the ground in Darfur is improving, with the aim of securing a suspension of the case against al-Bashir by the UN Security Council.  
 
“President Bashir’s claims about the situation in Darfur should convince no one,” said Gagnon. “But whether or not the fighting continues, the victims of past atrocities deserve to see those responsible prosecuted.”  
 
Human Rights Watch called on UNAMID to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into the Muhajariya attacks and urged all parties to the conflict to take all feasible measures to avoid loss of civilian life and property and to ensure that the civilian population has access to humanitarian assistance.

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Report: Ugandan rebels sold abducted children to fight in Darfur

Kampala_(dpa) _ Most of the estimated 30,000 children abducted by Ugandan rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) during its two-decade-long war with the government were sold to fight in Sudan’s restive Darfur province, Uganda’s Daily Monitor reported Wednesday.

The children were first forced by the LRA to fight and commit atrocities. Afterward, they were sold to various rebel armies in Darfur to fight or to serve as sex slaves, the newspaper quoted Stephen Kagoda, permanent secretary in the Ministry for Internal Affairs, as telling parliament.

“Some of these children are in Darfur being used as child soldiers, porters and others were sold as sex slaves to the Sudanese,” Kagoda told a parliamentary committee working on an anti-child trafficking bill.

The conflict in Darfur began in 2003 when black tribesmen took up arms against what they called decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated Sudanese government in Khartoum.

The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in five years of conflict.

The LRA, which has yet to make peace with the government in Kampala, has received support from the Sudanese government in the past. However, it was forced from its bases in southern Sudan in late 2004 and fled to the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Aid agencies in the DRC say that the Ugandan rebels are carrying out attacks against Congolese civilians, and have already displaced at least 50,000 people from their villages in the country’s north-eastern Ituri region.

Peace talks began between the Ugandan government and the LRA in mid 2006, but the rebels have refused to sign the final peace treaty.

The LRA insists the International Criminal Court (ICC) first remove arrest warrants it slapped on five of its leaders for war crimes.

“(LRA leader Joseph) Kony is afraid to come out of the bush because we shall ask him to show us our children,” Kagoda said. dpa hw ml ncs sc

Copyright (c) dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

SHAHRUL PESHAWAR – spare the children, allow them to study and learn.  They are future leader.  Think about your own children… would you like them to be treated in such manner? 

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At least 69 children dead in Sudan food crisis – UN

KHARTOUM, Sept 25 (Reuters) – At least 69 children have died from malnutrition and sickness after floods washed away crops in isolated villages in southeast Sudan in recent weeks, U.N. agencies said on Thursday.

Blocked roads and a lack of air transport are preventing the supply of emergency rations to parts of the region, the agencies added.

Aid workers fear for villagers in the Kurmuk region of Blue Nile state, where thousands of former refugees have returned home in the past few months after years of exile across the border in Ethiopia. Some remote villages unreachable by aid workers are at increased risk, the agencies said.

The U.N.’s refugee agency said villagers in the region had used up six months of emergency food given to them when they arrived in Bellila and nearby villages earlier this year.

“There is now a food crisis,” an agency spokeswoman said. “The harvest was bad and food prices in the market are very high. The seeds that were in the field have also been washed away by floods.”

The U.N.’s World Food Programme said it has a month’s worth of emergency food for the region, but floods had blocked roads and it has not yet obtained air transport to supply the aid.

Villagers who fled more than two decades of north-south civil war in Sudan have been slowly returning to the area after a 2005 peace deal, but three years on and the region has seen little development.

A report from the U.N.’s mission in Sudan, seen by Reuters, said the World Health Organisation sent a team to Bellila this month to set up a health clinic and to assess the situation.

“The findings were alarming. The returnee community had finished their six-month food ration some months ago and did not have sufficient food ever since,” the U.N. report said.

The report said 48 children died in the village of Gindi and another 21 in Borfa in August and September, all of them aged one to six. They died from malnutrition, diarrhoea and malaria.

Almost half of the 1,200 villagers needed medical treatment, a situation likely to be similar in other remote areas of Kurmuk, the report said.

Sudan, in the midst of its annual rainy season, has been hit by a series of floods in recent weeks, but the U.N.’s refugee agency said the needs were particularly acute in Blue Nile because of the remoteness of the villagers.

Villagers were also in a particularly vulnerable condition having just returned after years in refugee camps, it added.

(Writing by Andrew Heavens in Khartoum)

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UN: Five Countries Responsible for All Executions of Juvenile Offenders Since 2005

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Pakistan, and Yemen Executed 32 for Crimes Committed as Children
(New York, September 10, 2008) – Ending executions for crimes committed by children in just five countries would result in universal implementation of the prohibition on the juvenile death penalty, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Governments should use next week’s United Nations General Assembly session opening to commit to urgently needed reforms to protect the rights of children in conflict with the law.

We are only five states away from a complete ban on the juvenile death penalty. These few holdouts should abandon this barbaric practice so that no one ever again is executed for a crime committed as a child.

In the 20-page report, “The Last Holdouts: Ending the Juvenile Death Penalty in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Pakistan, and Yemen,” Human Rights Watch documents failures in law and practice that since January 2005 have resulted in 32 executions of juvenile offenders in five countries: Iran (26), Saudi Arabia (2), Sudan (2), Pakistan (1), and Yemen (1). The report also highlights cases of individuals recently executed or facing execution in the five countries, where well over 100 juvenile offenders are currently on death row, awaiting the outcome of a judicial appeal, or in some murder cases, the outcome of negotiations for pardons in exchange for financial compensation.

“We are only five states away from a complete ban on the juvenile death penalty,” said Clarisa Bencomo, Middle East children’s rights researcher for Human Rights Watch. “These few holdouts should abandon this barbaric practice so that no one ever again is executed for a crime committed as a child.”

Every state in the world has ratified or acceded to treaties obligating them to ensure that juvenile offenders – persons under 18 at the time of the crime – are never sentenced to death. The overwhelming majority of states complies with this obligation, with several states – including the United States and China – in recent years moving to ban the juvenile death penalty and strengthen juvenile justice protections.

The vast majority of executions of juvenile offenders take place in Iran, where judges can impose the death penalty in capital cases if the defendant has attained “majority,” defined in Iranian law as 9 years for girls and 15 years for boys. Iran is known to have executed six juvenile offenders so far in 2008, including two in August: Behnam Zare on August 26, 2008, and Seyyed Reza Hejazi on August 19, 2008. Over 130 other juvenile offenders are currently sentenced to death.

In Saudi Arabia judges have discretion to impose the death sentence on children from puberty or 15 years – whichever comes first. Saudi Arabia executed at least two juvenile offenders in 2007: Dhahiyan bin Rakan bin Sa`d al-Thawri al-Sibai`i on July 21, 2007, and Mu`id bin Husayn bin Abu al-Qasim bin `Ali Hakami on July 10, 2007. Hakami was only 13 years old at the time of the alleged crime, and 15 at the time of his execution. According to his father, Saudi authorities did not inform the family of the execution until days later, and did not return boy’s body.

In Sudan, the 2005 Interim National Constitution allows for the juvenile death penalty for certain crimes, including murder and armed robbery resulting in murder or rape. Vague language in Sudan’s 2004 Child Law leaves open the possibility that children can still be sentenced to death under the 1991 Penal Code, which defines an adult as “a person whose puberty has been established by definite natural features and who has completed 15 years of age … [or] attained 18 years of age … even if the features of puberty do not appear.” With more than 35 percent of Sudanese births not registered, even very young juvenile offenders can face execution because they have no birth certificates to prove their age at the time of the offense. Sudan executed two juvenile offenders, Mohammed Jamal Gesmallah and Imad Ali Abdullah, on August 31, 2005, and has sentenced at least four other juvenile offenders to death since January 2005.

In Pakistan, the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance of 2000 bans the death penalty for crimes committed by persons under 18 at the time of the offense, but authorities have yet to implement it in all territories. With only 29.5 percent of births registered, juvenile offenders can find it impossible to convince a judge they were children at the time of the crime. Pakistan executed one such juvenile offender, Mutabar Khan, on June 13, 2006.

In Yemen, the Penal Code sets a maximum 10-year sentence for capital crimes committed by persons under 18, but in a country with only 22 percent of births registered and minimal capacity for forensic age determinations, children can find it impossible to prove their age at the time of the crime. Yemen last executed a juvenile offender, Adil Muhammad Saif al-Ma’amari, in February 2007, despite his allegation that he was 16 at the time of the crime and had been tortured to confess. According to nongovernmental organizations and government sources, in 2007 at least 18 other juvenile offenders were on death row.

“Even states that still execute juvenile offenders acknowledge that such executions are wrong,” said Bencomo. “But changes in law and practice need to be faster.”

In the coming weeks the United Nations secretary-general will report back to the UN General Assembly on follow-up to the latter’s ground-breaking December 2007 resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty for all crimes. Human Right Watch calls on UN member states to request that the secretary-general issue a similar report on compliance with the absolute ban on the juvenile death penalty, including information on:

1. The number of juvenile offenders currently sentenced to death, and the number executed during the last five years;

2. Rates of birth registration; and

3. States’ implementation of relevant domestic legislation, including mechanisms ensuring juvenile offenders have legal assistance at all stages of investigation and trial.

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Sudan president charged with genocide in Darfur

By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press Writer Mon Jul 14, 4:53 PM ET

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court sought an arrest warrant Monday for Sudan’s president on charges of waging a campaign of genocide and rape in Darfur, a high-risk strategy that could backfire against the people in the war-torn desert region.

The indictment marked the first time prosecutors at the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal have issued charges against a sitting head of state, though President Omar al-Bashir was unlikely to face trial any time soon.

Sudan denounced the indictment as a political stunt, saying it would ignore any arrest order and was considering all options, including an unspecified military response. One Sudanese lawmaker said his government could no longer guarantee the safety of U.N. staff in the troubled region.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges against al-Bashir related to a campaign of extermination of three Darfur tribes that the U.N. says claimed 300,000 lives and driven 2.5 million people from their homes. A three-judge panel was expected to take two to three months to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant.

Human rights groups welcomed the prosecutor’s move, but cautioned it could provoke a violent backlash from Sudan, while offering little prospect that al-Bashir will be arrested and sent for trial to The Hague. The court, which began work in 2002, has no enforcement arm and relies on governments to act as its police force.

“The prosecutor’s legal strategy also poses major risks for the fragile peace and security environment in Sudan, with a real chance of greatly increasing the suffering of very large numbers of its people,” the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a statement.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed, said al-Bashir was weighing all options, including a military response.

Al-Bashir likely will attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September, and Sudan would consider any attempt to arrest him a declaration of war, Mohamed said.

In Khartoum, the deputy parliament speaker, Mohammed al-Hassan al-Ameen, warned Sudan was unable to guarantee “the safety of any individual.”

“The U.N. asks us to keep its people safe, but how can we guarantee their safety when they want to seize our head of state?” al-Ameen said on state TV.

Sudan’s anger could undermine talks to resolve the decades-old enmity between north and south Sudan, and endanger efforts by relief workers and an ill-equipped U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force to protect 2.5 million people living in refugee camps, the Crisis Group said.

“These are significant risks, particularly given that the likelihood of actually executing any warrant issued against al-Bashir is remote, at least in the short term,” it added.

Al-Bashir, who has ruled Sudan for 19 years, appears invulnerable in his capital, though an international warrant would leave him open to arrest outside the country’s borders, restricting his travel and putting him in a category akin to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who faces a U.N. travel ban.

Still, African nations have rarely taken action against one of their leaders, and al-Bashir is likely to feel few constraints on his own continent.

On Monday, the Sudanese leader appeared at an elaborate law-signing ceremony in Khartoum, where dozens of lawmakers, diplomats and military leaders paraded past him cheering. Al-Bashir waved a wooden cane and smiled as advisers danced and a brass band played nationalist songs.

Moreno-Ocampo acknowledged the risks posed by an indictment, but said he had an obligation to pursue the president.

“I am a prosecutor doing a judicial case,” he said. “In the camps, al-Bashir’s forces kill the men and rape the women. He wants to end the history of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa people. I don’t have the luxury to look away. I have evidence.”

The 10 charges filed against al-Bashir include three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes.

The Sudanese Liberation Movement-Unity, a Darfur rebel group, welcomed the move and offered to help arrest and extradite any war criminals from Sudan — though it is unlikely the rebels would stand any chance of arresting al-Bashir.

If Sudan refuses to turn over al-Bashir, it will be up to the U.N. Security Council to press Khartoum to cooperate, something it has so far failed to do.

“Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo’s charges against al-Bashir underscore the need for the U.N. Security Council to finally act decisively with a comprehensive strategy for Sudan,” said Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition.

Achieving unanimous backing in the Security Council for any action against Sudan will be fraught with problems since two of its permanent members, China and Russia, are Sudan’s allies.

Both are accused of arming Sudan, but both also approved the council’s 2005 resolution ordering Moreno-Ocampo to investigate crimes in Darfur.

In a statement, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he “expects that the government of Sudan will continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations in Sudan, while fulfilling its obligation to ensure the safety and security of all United Nations personnel and property.”

The war in Darfur began in 2003 as a crackdown on anti-government rebels who complained their arid region was neglected by Khartoum. The U.N. estimates 300,000 people have died, directly from attacks or indirectly through starvation.

Moreno-Ocampo said Sudan’s forces and their janjaweed militia proxies now deliberately target civilians in villages and camps rather than the rebels, sometimes even bypassing nearby rebel encampments.

They destroy villages, rape women and girls and leave the homeless to starve in the desert or suffer malnutrition in camps, he alleged.

“These 2.5 million people are in camps. They (al-Bashir’s forces) don’t need gas chambers because the desert will kill them,” Moreno-Ocampo told a news conference, drawing comparison’s with the Nazi Holocaust.

One witness cited by prosecutors said rape was woven into the fabric of life in Darfur.

“Maybe around 20 men rape one woman. These things are normal for us here in Darfur,” said the statement from the unidentified witness cited by Moreno-Ocampo.

The prosecutor said mass rape was producing a generation of so-called “janjaweed babies” and “an explosion of infanticide” by victims.

Moreno-Ocampo said an arrest warrant for al-Bashir would present the world a chance to stop the killings.

“We are dealing with a genocide. Is it easy to stop? No. Do we need to stop? Yes,” he told the AP in an interview Monday before publicly unveiling his indictment.

“The international community failed in the past, failed to stop Rwanda genocide, failed to stop Balkans crimes,” he added. “So this time, the new thing is there is a court, an independent court … which is saying, ‘This is a genocide.'”

Other U.N.-created international tribunals have charged Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Liberian President Charles Taylor with war crimes while they were still in office. Milosevic died in his cell in March 2006. Taylor is currently on trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone.

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Associated Press writers Mohamed Osman in Khartoum, Sudan; John Heilprin at the United Nations and Desmond Butler in Washington contributed to this report.\

R I D I C U L O U S  to charge President Omar Al Bashir on the genocide claim… baseless allegation and a total mala fide.

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UN fury at Darfur militia ambush

Peacekeeper in Darfur
Only 10,000 troops of a planned 26,000-force have been deployed

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has condemned an ambush which left seven members of the joint UN-African Union peace mission to Sudan’s Darfur region dead.

Twenty-two others were injured, seven critically, in one of the deadliest assaults on UN forces in recent years.

The UN says its peacekeepers fought for over two hours to repulse suspected Janjaweed fighters, who were armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

Only 10,000 of a planned 26,000-strong peacekeeping force have been deployed.

Correspondents say the UN-AU mission, which began work this year, lacks the military hardware, including attack helicopters, needed to operate effectively in a region roughly the size of France.

‘Extreme violence’

Khartoum, which wants predominantly African peacekeepers, has been accused of slowing down the deployment of the force by repeatedly raising objections.

About 40 armoured vehicles ambushed the peace force while it was on patrol in North Darfur on Wednesday.

map

Ten vehicles from the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (Unamid) were destroyed, Sudan’s state media reported.

A spokeswoman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he “condemns in the strongest possible terms this unacceptable act of extreme violence”.

The BBC’s Laura Trevelyan at the UN in New York says that UN officials suspect Janjaweed militia loyal to Sudan’s government were to blame.

She says diplomats are wondering whether the timing of the attack could be linked to the fact that top Sudanese officials could be indicted for war crimes at the International Criminal Court next week.

The Janjaweed has long been hostile to UN troops in Sudan, fearing they could be used to arrest anyone indicted by the court at the Hague, our correspondent says.

Since the conflict began in Darfur five years ago, the UN estimates that some 300,000 people have died and two million have fled their homes.

The conflict began when rebels took up arms in protest at alleged government discrimination against the region.

Pro-government Arab militias have been accused of widespread atrocities against the black African population.

Abstracted from BBC News  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7498811.stm

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