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Daily Archives: April 8, 2008

Rights group says girls as young as 11 raped in Darfur

Girls as young as 11 have suffered rape by Sudanese government forces and armed groups across Darfur more than five years after war began there, a US-based rights organisation said yesterday.
Human Rights Watch said sexual violence is rife in Darfur, where neither Sudanese security forces nor international peacekeepers are properly protecting women and girls from rape and other brutal attack, even during periods of calm.
"The government of Sudan has failed to rein in the abuse, much of which is carried out by their own soldiers and allied militia," the report said.
International peacekeepers "have to date been under-resourced and unable to protect women and girls from rape and other forms of violence," it added.
The Sudanese army last month rejected as biased and baseless lies a UN report accusing its soldiers of rape and extensive looting in western Darfur.
But HRW said it had documented rape and sexual violence carried out by Sudanese government soldiers, the Khartoum-backed militia known as Janjaweed, rebels and former rebels across Darfur since early 2007.
Soldiers, militia, rebels, and former rebels are also raping women and girls outside displaced persons camps and in rural areas.
One 11-year-old girl who was raped by three armed men when she went to collect grass with her 7-year-old sister was so badly injured that she had to be evacuated to hospital by an African Union helicopter, HRW said.
"The victims of these horrific attacks have little or no hope of redress in Darfur's current climate of impunity," said HRW Africa director Georgette Gagnon.
"By failing to prosecute the perpetrators, the government is giving them a licence to rape," she added.
The United Nations says that since the Darfur conflict broke out in February 2003, at least 200,000 people have died and 2.2 million fled their homes. The Sudanese government maintains that 9,000 have been killed.
The conflict began when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime and state-backed Arab militias, fighting for resources and power in one of the most remote and deprived places on earth.

Putin to become PM, ruling party leader

President Vladimir Putin is to become prime minister on May 8, the day after stepping down from the Kremlin, and will also be asked to head Russia's ruling party, the speaker of parliament said yesterday.
"We are waiting for May 7 when there will be the inauguration of the new president, and May 8 when there will be the confirmation of the prime ministerial candidacy of the leader of the United Russia list, Vladimir Putin," Gryzlov told journalists.
Putin stands down after eight years on May 7 when his handpicked successor Dmitry Medvedev, who was elected March in a carefully controlled election, takes over.
Under Medvedev, Putin will retain significant power over domestic affairs, including Russia's oil-fuelled economy.
That powerbase would strengthen further if he became head of United Russia, which controls more than two thirds of parliament seats.
Gryzlov, who is the current head of the party and a close Putin ally, said: "I will propose to Vladimir Putin that he takes over the leadership of United Russia."
The switch could take place as early as April 14-15 when the party holds its congress. Putin is closely associated with United Russia and headed its list of candidates in December parliamentary elections, but is not technically a member.
Medvedev is a relative newcomer to politics and has never held elected office, prompting widespread speculation in Moscow that Putin will continue to pull the strings from his new post.
The inauguration of Medvedev and naming of Putin as premier will be followed May 9 by the annual Victory Day parade on Red Square. For the first time since the Soviet era strategic missiles, tanks and other heavy weapons will take part in the ceremony.