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Sudan must speed up Darfur trials: rights expert
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Feb 11, 2010 - 6:38:16 AM

Sudan must speed up Darfur trials: rights expert

Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:41pm GMT

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's special prosecutor for crimes in Darfur has not charged or tried anyone, and the government must speed up trials or lose the confidence of the people, a U.N.-appointed human rights expert said on Thursday.

Sudan appointed special prosecutor Nimr Mohamed in 2008 hoping his trials would delay the International Criminal Court which last year issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur. Sudan rejects the ICC's jurisdiction.

"He (Nimr Mohamed) informed me that investigations are continuing and that no one has been charged and tried as yet," Tanzanian judge Mohamed Chande Othman told reporters.

"This is an issue of utmost importance in terms of accountability," he added. "Because the more you delay the more the confidence of the people of Darfur will be eroded."

Othman said there were 120 investigations underway but that the prosecutor said he was facing problems accessing rebel-held areas and finding witnesses who had left the country.

Othman was speaking in Khartoum after a 17-day trip, his first visit since being appointed last year by the U.N. human rights council to review Sudan.

He noted a few positive developments with female police being deployed and human rights awareness training of security forces.

The ICC is reviewing genocide charges against Bashir and the government had hoped its trials would substitute for the ICC

proceedings. A fair national judicial process would take precedence over ICC investigations.

The United Nations estimates some 300,000 have died in Darfur with more than 2 million people fleeing their homes, sparking the world's largest humanitarian operation until Bashir expelled 13 of the larger aid agencies working in the vast region.

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