The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2020/487) issued on 03 June 2020.

Following the fall of the President, Omer Al-Bashir, on 11 April 2019, and the subsequent formation of a transitional Government in August, there has been a reduction in the intensity and frequency of clashes between Government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW), as well as other factions operating in the greater Jebel Marra area. However, localized attacks against internally displaced persons and other vulnerable communities continued to expose civilians, particularly women and girls, to conflict-related sexual violence. During the reporting period, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) documented 191 cases of sexual violence, affecting 135 women, 54 girls and 2 boys. Rape and attempted rape constituted 80 per cent of these cases. Incidents were attributed to armed nomads, members of SLA-AW and militia groups. Government security forces, including the Sudanese Armed Forces, elements of the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudan Police Force, were also implicated. A spike in rape and other forms of sexual violence against girls was identified in the second half of the year in the context of armed clashes between SLA-AW factions in the Jebel Marra area, aimed at gaining control of territory in the south-east. According to the Humanitarian Aid Commission in Central Darfur, an estimated 125 women were allegedly raped between May and June, following fighting among SLA-AW splinter factions in various villages of northern Jebel Marra. Survivors described the perpetrators as former SLA-AW combatants now affiliated with the Rapid Support Forces. UNAMID noted a peak in cases, allegedly perpetrated by armed nomads during the rainy season, to intimidate farming communities and impede critical livelihood activities. In July, a group of armed men launched a series of attacks against several groups of women working in farming areas of Arwala, Nang Kosi, Zari, Taringa and Boronga villages. In one such incident, an adolescent girl was reportedly raped.

Women and women-led organizations played a vital role in the peaceful demonstrations that began in December 2018. However, a number were also subjected to sexual assault as a form of political violence. In June, Sudan’s security forces, including presumed members of the Rapid Support Forces, were identified as resorting to excessive force to disperse protesters, including the use of sexual violence. A total of 61 casualties were acknowledged by the authorities. In response, the Prime Minister announced the creation of a National Investigation Committee in accordance with the Constitutional Document to investigate. Several rape allegations were transmitted to the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan. The Government’s Unit for Combating Violence against Women and Children coordinated the provision of multisectoral services for survivors, with support from the United Nations.

In the second half of 2019, UNAMID implemented community outreach activities in the greater Jebel Marra area, aimed at raising awareness among sexual violence survivors of the support services available. The United Nations supported extensive training for Sudanese civilian, military and police counterparts, to build their capacity to respond to sexual violence. In addition, 120 judicial officers were trained on enhancing accountability and access to justice for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. The United Nations Population Fund supported the establishment of 40 gender desks in police stations in four Darfur states, and supported training for 112 police personnel, prosecutors and social workers on the application of human rights standards in the investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence. Access to specialized medical care in several areas, including to post-exposure prophylaxis, remains limited for survivors of sexual violence, often resulting in HIV infections or unwanted pregnancies. The 2015 amendment to the Criminal Act, distinguishing rape from adultery, has not yet been widely disseminated among the police in remote locations, where sexual violence has been prevalent. Moreover, the absence of a comprehensive witness protection and reparations law, inadequate legal aid and the limited presence of rule of law institutions in remote locations continue to discourage survivors from seeking justice.

Recommendation

I commend the Government on the adoption of a framework of cooperation to address conflict-related sexual violence with my Special Representative on behalf of the United Nations. I encourage the authorities to ensure accountability for crimes of sexual violence and to develop laws on reparations for survivors and protection for victims and witnesses.

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