September 26, 2012 / 4:41 PM / in 5 years

Sudan urged to halt repression, allow wider U.N. investigation

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States, Canada and the European Union urged Sudan on Wednesday to stop clamping down on newspapers and protesters and allow a U.N. investigator to look into allegations of brutality against civilians in restive areas.

Mashood Baderin, an independent human rights expert, told the U.N. Human Rights Council that when he made his first mission to Sudan in June he was not allowed to leave Khartoum, despite disturbing reports of violations in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The Sudanese government is battling an alliance of rebels in the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, which border South Sudan.

"We have witnessed terrible human rights violations over the last year. Your (Baderin's) future mandate must allow you unfettered access to the country so that you can assess, verify and report on human rights violations," U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told the Council, calling for renewal of Baderin's mandate.

On Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, she said, "The brutal violence against civilians in these areas should cause deep concern for all those who take human rights seriously."

Sudan's delegation to the Council said the government was doing everything it could to end the conflict in the Blue Nile and that the rebel movements needed to be put to an end.

A commission of inquiry has been established to look into killings during demonstrations in June and July, it added.

The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan, which came close to war in April, are now seeking a border security deal, which could revive oil production and end hostilities.

ALLEGATIONS OF BOMBING, RAPE

Human Rights Watch said it had documented serious violations including indiscriminate bombings of civilian areas by government forces in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and rapes.

"Such attacks may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity," Philippe Dam of the New York-based group said.

EU envoy to the Council, Mariangela Zappia, voiced concerns at "the use of excessive force by security forces against protesters, increased restrictions on public meetings and assembly, restrictions on press and impunity currently prevailing for these abuses".

Baderin, who is from Nigeria, told the 47-member Council that aid workers cannot reach people uprooted by violence in the three states.

"Another issue relates to using national security laws in clamping down on newspapers and also using force against demonstrators ... Arbitrary closings of newspapers should be stopped henceforth," he said.

Senegal has submitted a resolution on behalf of African countries to renew Baderin's mandate, and it called for the government to cooperate with him.

"The Sudanese (diplomatic) mission has given me assurances that should my mandate be renewed, they will grant access to all these places," Baderin said.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was indicted in 2009 by the International Criminal Court on charges he masterminded genocide and other atrocities during the Darfur conflict.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Jane Baird

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