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2011 | HRW Report - Darfur in the Shadows

This Report by Human Rights Watch emphasizes the fact that most of the sexual crimes in Sudan have been committed by government forces. Pursuant to a number of legal acts the members of these forces, including the armed forces and police units, are protected by immunity from prosecution. The Sudanese government, however, refuses to lift the immunity, thus preventing any real progress on domestic prosecution for war crimes and human rights abuses.

In the absence of any effective steps on behalf of the Government of Sudan to stop the atrocities taking place in the country and, in particular, in its western region of Darfur, the UN Security Council decided in 2005 to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court (see Res. 1593). Since then the ICC has issued arrest warrants for three individuals, including President al-Bashir. The crimes allegedly committed by these people include the sexual offences foreseen by the Court's Statute.

The African Union’s High-level Implementation Panel on Darfur has also been actively involved in strengthening the criminal justice system in Sudan. It has suggested among other things the creation of  hybrid courts, employing Sudanese and non-Sudanese judges to prosecute serious crimes in violation of international law. Sudanese officials have rejected this idea.

Human Rights Watch states that there have been no significant attempts on behalf of the Sudanese government to ensure the minimum guarantees for a fair trial. According to the 1997 Emergency and Public Safety Act, still in force, the executive branch may authorize the detention of people for an indefinite period of time without any judicial review. There have been numerous detentions without reliance on any identified legal basis, even including the emergency laws. The report asserts that people are arbitrarily imprisoned for their active involvement in pro-democratic activities or for testifying against government officials.