February 27, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – A United Nations special envoy for sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten has called to end the culture of denial and to punish the perpetrators of rape crimes in Darfur region.
- Awatif Abdallah, 19, holds a letter from the police with a medical report scrawled on it saying she was raped and beaten. But the police refused to take her case, and a judge later dismissed it on 22 October 2004. (AFP/ Photo)
Patten was in Sudan from 18 to 25 February 2018. She is the first Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict to pay a visit to the east African country since the office was established in 2009.
In a statement released on Tuesday, she regretted the impunity of perpetrators of sexual crimes due to the “existence of a deep-seated culture of denial which enhances and feeds the culture of silence about sexual violence”.
“It is usually the victims of sexual violence who are shamed or stigmatized,” she stressed.
The international envoy said she was “dismayed” to learn that no a single case of conflict-related rape was investigated by the Prosecutor General of the Special Court for Darfur, which has jurisdiction over conflict-related crimes committed in Darfur since February 2003.
Patten during her one-week visit to Sudan met in Khartoum with Sudanese officials, parliamentarians, the National Human Rights Commission and civil society groups.
In Darfur region, she visited the capital of North Darfur El Fasher and West Darfur capital El Geneina where she met with local officials and displaced people in Abu Shok and Al-Hujajj camps.
The envoy pointed to the improvement in the security situation in Darfur but regretted that women continue to be raped while collecting water or firewood, or when they leave camps to pursue livelihood activities.
“In addition to ensuring security, states also have the responsibility to hold perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence accountable,” she said.
She further projected the signing of a joint communiqué with the Sudanese government reflecting ” Government’s commitment to addressing conflict-related sexual violence, and provide a framework for United Nations support to be provided” by her office, UNAMID and UN country team.
“I have proposed that the Joint Communiqué focus on five priority areas: survivors’ access to medical, psychosocial, legal and socioeconomic services; monitoring, analysis, documentation and information sharing on sexual violence; rule of law responses to conflict-related sexual violence; engagement with the security sector; and engagement with religious leaders and civil society,” she said.
Also, Patten proposed to dispatch a team of UN experts to assess the needs and develop a plan to implement the Joint Communiqué.