Delivered by Tirana Hassan, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
Thank you, Mr. President, High Commissioner.
Today I address the Human Rights Council for the first time in my capacity as Executive Director of Human Rights Watch to appeal for meaningful action on Sudan. As this devastating human rights and humanitarian situation unfolds before our eyes, it is critical for this Council to address the longstanding impunity at the heart of this conflict.
Since fighting erupted in April, both the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces have launched attacks in densely populated areas, killing and injuring countless civilians, destroying critical infrastructure, and displacing nearly five million people.
In West Darfur, the Rapid Support Forces and allied Arab militias have deliberately targeted non-Arab communities, notably ethnic Massalit, killing and injuring civilians including women and children as they flee, burning towns to the ground, and raping dozens of women. A 20-year-old Massalit woman, two months after she was raped by multiple assailants, was still visibly haunted by the attack. “I can’t sleep, I can’t feel normal,” she told my colleagues in eastern Chad.
History is repeating itself. Twenty years ago, I was in Darfur working with victims brutalized by many of the same tactics being used today. Those responsible were never held to account.
This Council has an opportunity to put an end to that impunity. I appeal to all states to work together to establish an independent international mechanism to investigate and advance accountability. Such a move is key to preventing further atrocities and giving survivors a voice, and hope.