KHARTOUM, Sudan, December 20, 2017–The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) calls for urgent steps to be taken to investigate and hold to account the perpetrators of a gang rape of a 16-year-old girl and a woman who reported the incident to the police in Nertiti, Central Darfur.
Sudanese authorities should ensure the allocation of adequate resources and victim and witness protection in the case, which took place in Nertiti on 15 December 2017. The two victims were held at gunpoint and raped repeatedly by six armed militiamen and then they have been freed after almost two hours.
The six armed men who belong to Janjaweed militias attacked Fatima (not her real name) 16 years old and Zahra (not her real name) 19 years old while they were collecting firewood three kilometres from the internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Nertiti town, Central Darfur state. The two victims belong to Fur ethnic group and reside in a camp IDPs in Nertiti.
The case was reported to a police station in Nertiti, and the two victims were transferred to a medical centre in Nertiti to be treated and examined. They were issued with Criminal Form 8, a medical evidence form used in criminal proceedings related to death or grievous hurt, and underwent a medical examination that confirmed the rape.
ACJPS calls for the Government of Sudan and local authorities to proceed with an investigation into the rape, with a view to finding and prosecuting the perpetrators. A special prosecutor should be appointed to the case should the victims wish to proceed with a criminal prosecution. Local authorities must guarantee the victims protection from reprisal.
ACJPS further calls on the Sudanese authorities to immediately put in place measures to protect civilians especially the vulnerable groups in and around Nertiti IDP camps.
The international community, particularly the European Union, United States, and African Union, should publicly and privately press the Sudanese government to meet its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law and to ensure unfettered access by UNAMID peacekeepers and humanitarian actors to all parts of Darfur.
Victims of sexual violence and other grave international crimes in Darfur face serious barriers to justice and a climate of endemic impunity for perpetrators.
On 17 August 2017, five masked and armed members of the Janjaweed militias attacked Halima (not her real name) and her father as they were walking along a road roughly two kilometres from Hijer village, south east of Nyala, the capital city of South Darfur. The Janjaweed members jumped out from behind large trees on the side of the road and held Halima and her father at gunpoint. Halima’s father was tied to a tree and Halima was gang raped repeatedly in front of her father overnight for eight hours.
The two were freed the next day, on 18 August, when the fazah – a rescue team made up of members of the local community – found them. The Janjaweed militias scattered when they saw the fazahapproaching.
On 29 June 2017, members of the SAF attacked Golo town, Jebel Marra, central Darfur state. The attack was prompted by the killing earlier the same day of a uniformed SAF officer who, together with four other soldiers, had attempted to rape a group of ten girls collecting water on the outskirts of the town.
During the morning hours, residents of Golo town reportedly responded to cries for help from the group of ten girls at a water pump. Residents attacked the group of five uniformed SAF soldiers who had attempted to gang rape the girls by throwing rocks. They stoned one of the soldiers to death and the others fled to the nearby SAF garrison. A short while later, around 50 SAF officers in uniform returned to Golo Town, armed with submachine guns and small arms. The soldiers raided homes and shops in the market, killing at least eleven people, including four children, and wounding twenty others. Ten women and girls were raped. At least thirty men were arrested from the market and forced to carry goods stolen by the soldiers to the nearby SAF garrison.
The scale of sexual violence in Darfur is likely much greater than any reports indicate. Independent monitors are unable to access most of Sudan’s conflict affected areas and survivors often do not report incidents, due to insecurity, stigma, the fear of reprisal and other obstacles. Among the obstacles are laws and policies that fail to ensure a safe environment for reporting sexual and gender based violence incidents and a consistent failure to prosecute these crimes. Despite recent changes to the definition of the offence of rape in Sudan’s criminal law, the law remains unclear about evidence standards that apply and women who report sexual offences remain at risk of prosecution for adultery or committing “immoral acts” if they fail to prove a rape case.
In addition, many of the international and domestic organisations expelled from Sudan following the ICC indictment provided medical, legal, and psychological services to women, and local civil society groups have faced serious difficulties filling this gap.
To date, the Government of Sudan has not ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, or the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), alongside the Optional Protocol to it of 2000.