Bashir sets up panel to probe human rights abuses in Darfur

Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) -- Against the backdrop of increasing international pressure, President Omar Hassan el Bashir announced the setting up Saturday of a human rights panel to probe allegations of human rights violations in the restive Sudanese region of Western Darfur.
The move follows accusations from UN and human rights organisations that Khartoum was in league with Arab militia that has torched villages and killed thousands of people in the troubled region.
The panel, led by the former Chief Justice Dafaallah Alhaj Yousif includes senior legal advisors, consultants, experts and university professors.
It would probe especially claims relating to killings, torture, the burning of villages and the seizure of property.
"This is a purely Sudanese initiative," Foreign minister Najeeb Alkhair Abdelwahab told reporters after the panel was announced here.
The minister took issue with the report of a UN inquiry, which indicted the authorities in Khartoum and their Janjaweed militias of committing human rights abuses in Western Darfur.
He also faulted the European Union (EU) and US, charging that economic sanctions they slapped on Sudan only helped to aggravate the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, undermining efforts to development the country's impoverished areas.
"Those sanctions primarily constituted a punishment for the regions of the country, particularly Darfur, where development assistance were cut off," the minister charged.
"The situation in Darfur is neither one of ethnic cleansing nor genocide.
It is primarily a clash over resources," Abdelwahab said of the fighting between pro-government Arab militia and two rebel movements that accuse Khartoum of marginalisation and neglect.
The revolt by the indigenous Fur Massalite and Zaghawa minorities in Darfur, which began in February last year is spearheaded by the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

09 may 2004 10:07:00

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