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UN rights chief details Darfur rapes, disappearances in new reports

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] released [press release] two reports Friday detailing alleged rapes and disappearances carried out by militia soldiers in the Darfur region of Sudan [JURIST news archives] at the end of 2006. According to the first report released by Arbour, at least 15 rapes and sexual assaults were committed by men who appeared to be Sudanese soldiers in December in the Jebel Marra region. Noting that some victims were as young as 13 years old, the report said that sexual violence was used "as a weapon of war to cause humiliation and instill fear into the local population." The second report [statement] said 19 men of the Massalit tribe disappeared after they were arrested in September by Minni Minnawi [BBC profile] and his Sudanese Liberation Army [FAS backgrounder] troops. Minnawi is a former rebel leader who signed the Darfur Peace Agreement [US embassy backgrounder] in May and currently serves as chairman of the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority. Bodies of 8 of the 19 men were discovered in January, and Arbour has called on Minnawi to reveal the fate of the remaining men. Arbour called for Sudan to fully and immediately investigate the reported human rights violations.

Since civil war broke out in the Darfur region in 2003, over 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced. Reports by the UN Human Rights Council and the International Committee for the Red Cross [official websites] have documented numerous violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law [JURIST reports] based on interviews with refugees, rebel groups, and agencies and authorities working in the region. The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] is also conducting an investigation into war crimes [ICC materials, JURIST news archive] in Sudan; however, Sudan has repeatedly rejected the ICC's jurisdiction [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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