Sudan strikes on S.Sudan may be illegal: UN
5/11/2012 6:00:01 PM -
JUBA (AFP) - Sudanese air strikes on foe South Sudan could amount to international crimes, the UN rights chief warned Friday, adding that she was "saddened and outraged" at bombing raids that broke a UN ceasefire order.
"Deliberate or reckless attacks on civilian areas can, depending on the circumstances, amount to an international crime," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told reporters.
Khartoum has repeatedly denied its warplanes have bombarded Southern territory during weeks of bitter border conflict, including civilian areas and a UN base as well as Southern army positions along the contested frontier.
However Pillay, who has been visiting South Sudan, said Khartoum had carried out "indiscriminate bombing without consideration that civilians are living there."
A May 2 Security Council resolution called for Sudan and South Sudan to cease hostilities along their border and settle unresolved issues after the South's separation last July following a 1983-2005 civil war.
On Wednesday, Sudan's army said it had fought with South Sudan along the disputed border, while the South said it had come under renewed Sudanese air attack, violating that UN ceasefire.
"Twice in the past six months I have publicly condemned the indiscriminate use of aerial bombardment by the Sudanese Armed Forces - today, I condemn it again," Pillay added.
"What the UN has done in response to the aerial bombardment by Sudan in the territory of South Sudan is mostly the adoption of a Security Council resolution, which is very serious when it reaches this stage," Pillay said.
Both sides have pledged to seek peace after bloody clashes began in late March, peaking with the South's seizure of the key Heglig oil field before it pulled back after international condemnation.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said Thursday neither the UN nor the African Union can impose its will on Sudan, although Khartoum's foreign ministry has sent written confirmation of its commitment to stop hostilities.
Under the resolution, talks must start by May 16.
Bashir and other senior Khartoum officials are already accused by the International Criminal Court of war crimes and genocide in Sudan's western war-torn Darfur region.