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UN calls for probe into Sudanese war crimes

The UN yesterday called for an independent and through inquiry into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sudan, weeks before the country was divided into two independent nations.

The preliminary 12-page report (see here) issued by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights detailed incidents of “extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, enforced disappearances, attacks against civilians, looting of civilian homes and destruction of property”.

Focussing on events between June 5th and 30th, the report went on to say "If substantiated (the allegations) could amount to crimes against humanity, or war crimes for which individual criminal responsibility may be sought".

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said

“This is a preliminary report produced under very challenging circumstances and with very limited access to affected areas... 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.”

The report detailed how the Sudanese Air Force (SAF) “regularly conducted aerial bombardments in the Nuba Mountains and in several towns and villages populated by the Nuba. The aerial bombardments have resulted in significant loss of life, destruction of properties, and massive displacement.”

Written in conjunction with the UN Mission in Sudan, the report also contains allegations the use of chemical weapons, widespread looting by armed militias, interference with medical and humanitarian assistance, as well as the existence of several mass graves.

“These flagrant and repeated violations of international conventions as well as specific agreements with the Government of Sudan concerning the privileges and immunities under which the UN operates are an extremely serious matter which cannot be left unresolved or unpunished,” said the High Commissioner.

Southern Kordofan is situated in Sudan, but borders the newly independent state of South Sudan. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.