UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
SUDAN: New committee to tackle abductions
NAIROBI, 24 May (IRIN) - The government in Khartoum is to set up a new committee with extensive powers to explore ways of eradicating the abduction of women and children for forced labour in Sudan.
Though previous committees have failed to halt the abductions - which have led to Sudan being accused of allowing slavery - "there are indications that this one might be different", UNICEF's Child Rights Officer in Khartoum, Dr Ushari Mahmoud, told IRIN on Monday.
This committee on abductions differs in that it "has the representation of all the groups and entities that matter in this issue", Mahmoud said. These include the public prosecutor, interior ministry, military, security forces and parliament. Crucially, he added, it also includes representatives of civil society: the bar association, women's union and the tribes concerned, including a committee of the Dinka people that has been involved with tracing abducted children.
The new committee's mandate is aimed at ensuring the safe return of abducted women and children, bringing to trial suspected abducters and recommending ways to eradicate the practice.
The committee chairman, Dr al-Mufti of the justice ministry, has called for a "brainstorming" meeting on Sunday, and invited the participation of the international community, including UNICEF, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Commission (EC).
This type and level of participation was "previously unheard of", Mahmoud told IRIN, and it has led UNICEF to tentatively consider the establishment of the committee as a positive step.
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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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