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For Immediate Release

Capitol Hill Briefing on Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Sudan and Chad

Cambridge, Mass - 10/26/2009

WHO: Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) medical investigation team, Sondra Crosby MD, Julia VanRooyen MD, Lin Piwowarczyk MD; Sudanese medical doctors, Mohammed Ahmed Abdullah MD, Shaza Elmahdi MD; PHR Deputy Director Susannah Sirkin

WHAT: Physicians for Human Rights invites you to a lunch briefing to hear from the field team that investigated sexual violence against Darfuri women in Sudan and in refugee camps in Chad. Joining the team will be two Sudanese physicians, Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah and Dr. Shaza Elmahdi.

The team of medical experts will outline key findings of PHR's recent report, Nowhere To Turn: Failure to Protect, Support and Assure Justice for Darfuri Women, and highlight implications for Congress in the wake of the Obama Administration's new Sudan policy.

Convened by Physicians for Human Rights with the support of Save Darfur Coalition, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Enough Project, Refugees International, Genocide Intervention Network, and American Islamic Congress.

WHEN: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 12:30 pm

WHERE: 2253 Rayburn HOB at Independence Ave. & South Capitol St., Washington, DC

VISUALS: American and Sudanese medical experts (male and female). High resolution images of refugee camps available.

WHY: Physicians for Human Rights welcomes the renewed sense of urgency and purpose contained in President Obama's new policy on Sudan, but remains skeptical that the genocidal regime in Khartoum can fulfill the role of trusted partner envisioned in the policy.

An immediate goal for US policy which is not explicitly addressed in the new comprehensive approach is an end to the gender-based violence occurring inside and outside camps in Chad and Darfur and an end to impunity for the crime of rape.

In line with US Strategic Objective #1, "A definitive end to conflict, gross human rights abuses, and genocide in Darfur," UNAMID and all UN agencies must be tasked with specific reporting on the problem of gender-based violence and must be free to report without obstruction by local authorities. The current system, which discourages women from reporting rape and seeking justice, must be reformed and existing rape laws must be strengthened.

The US and UN must also immediately demand a commitment from the Government of Sudan to cease impeding support programs for victims of gender-based violence and remove any obstacles to gender-based violence programming in technical agreements between the government and humanitarian NGOs. It is essential that the US monitor the ongoing situation on the ground in Darfur and not allow Omar al-Bashir's government the opportunity to further deceive the international community over human rights abuses. The Government of Sudan must accept an independent fact-finding mission to assess the human rights situation in Darfur, and the State Department should immediately encourage a high-level congressional delegation to perform this role, according to PHR.

As an independent medical organization which has documented, from 2004 to 2009, the Sudan government's mass killing and rape, pillage, forced displacement and destruction of all means of survival for hundreds of thousands of Darfuri civilians, PHR calls for an end to impunity for this genocidal campaign.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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