Sudan (Darfur)

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2014/181) issued on 13 March 2014.

 

During 2013, in the context of persistent and widespread insecurity, reports of conflict-related sexual violence in Darfur increased. Access by UNAMID to areas of ongoing military operations remained severely limited in part because of security constraints and restrictions imposed by government officials. Therefore, it is believed that the 149 cases verified during the reporting period reflect significant underreporting of conflict-related sexual violence. Internally displaced women and girls were particularly vulnerable and the majority of reported survivors were residents of camps for internally displaced persons who were attacked either outside camp perimeters while engaging in routine livelihood activities or inside camps. The proliferation of small arms in such camps and settlements, as well as in towns and villages, and an apparent increase in banditry, were exacerbating factors. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable during cultivation and harvest seasons (between June and November) and in the context of clashes between nomads and farming communities over land.

 

Sexual violence was also reported in the context of armed clashes, particularly following armed operations, while victims were isolated from their communities and in the process of resettling. Examples include abuses committed in the context of tribal clashes connected with gold mining in Jebel Amir, northern Darfur; abuses perpetrated by the Sudanese armed forces and its allied militias in southern and eastern Darfur; and abuses committed following clashes between the Sudanese armed forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi faction in eastern Darfur. The profiles of alleged perpetrators of sexual violence include unidentified armed Arab nomads, armed men in military uniforms and members of the government security apparatus, as well as internally displaced persons. In 20 per cent of cases, victims identified members of the forces of the Government of the Sudan as their attackers; specifically, they said the attackers were members of the Sudanese armed forces, the National Intelligence and Security Services, the government police forces and their affiliates (the Central Reserve Police, the Border Intelligence Guards and the Popular Defence Force). One member of the Liberation and Justice Movement was identified as a perpetrator. Government-affiliated militia members were also alleged to be perpetrators, but it should be noted that these forces frequently operate in the absence of direct government control.

 

It is difficult for survivors to identify perpetrators given the wide range of armed and uniformed actors in Darfur. Where identification is possible, prosecutions through the formal justice system proceed slowly. That said, the Government is pursuing, through the judicial process, allegations against several members of its armed forces. Access restrictions faced by all United Nations actors have also resulted in the placement of severe limitations on the provision of assistance to survivors. Owing to stigma and for fear of repercussions, survivors of rape do not always list sexual violence as an aspect of a crime committed against them when accessing medical treatment, which is an evidentiary requirement for judicial proceedings. Therefore, there is concern that the reporting protocols, particularly the use of a document known as “form 8”, present obstacles to the treatment of sexual violence survivors rather than facilitating investigations. Furthermore, rape victims often run the risk of being charged with the offense of adultery (zinna), and a reference to adultery is made in the definition of rape provided by article 149 of the Criminal Act 1991. The Act does not contain provisions on command responsibility. During 2013, UNAMID received a number of reports of pregnancy as a result of rape. Survivors have reported revictimization, some by being accused of unlawful pregnancy and one by being accused of having murdered the child. The protection of women with children born as a result of rape, as well as the well-being of such children, is a significant concern.

 

The United Nations continued to engage in advocacy, training and capacity- building measures directed at armed actors, law enforcement officials, members of the judiciary and government officials. In addition to efforts to support formal protection measures, community-level protection mechanisms continued to be implemented, such as women moving in large groups for farming, firewood, water or grass collection, daily security patrols and security meetings in camps for internally displaced persons with the support of the United Nations police. During 2013, the UNAMID police force also continued to train community policing volunteers on handling sexual violence survivors, particularly rape victims, interviewing skills and referral pathways. The women’s police networks established for Sudanese women also continued to provide a platform for internally displaced women to highlight their security concerns and request action from authorities. Similarly, the women’s protection networks established in the camps for internally displaced persons in northern Darfur continued to identify protection issues specific to women in order to inform prevention and response strategies by different actors, including the government of Northern Darfur State, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations working on protection issues.

 

Recommendation

I urge the Government of the Sudan to facilitate access by the United Nations and partners to conflict- affected areas so that they may provide services and carry out monitoring activities. I also encourage the Government to reform national legislation in relation to sexual violence crimes and revise reporting protocols. I encourage the Government to engage with my Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to develop a framework of cooperation to address conflict- related sexual violence.