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Sudan begins terror trials for 39 Darfur rebels

[JURIST] Thirty-nine accused Darfur [JURIST news archive] rebels appeared before special courts in Sudan to be tried under a 2001 anti-terrorism law Wednesday. The accused allegedly belong to the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) [group website], which Sudanese officials accuse [AP report] of terrorism, rebellion and conspiring against the constitution. Lawyers for the rebels have expressed skepticism that the special courts, which were established by the nation's chief justice, can be impartial. If convicted, the defendants could face the death penalty. Sudanese security forces arrested more than 100 JEM members [HRW press release; JURIST report] following a May 10 attack on the Sudanese city of Omdurman, in which at least 200 people died. Reuters has more. SUNA has local coverage, in Arabic.

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report [text, PDF; HRW press release] detailing detainee abuse in the wake of the May 10 rebel attack. The report calls on the Sudanese government to identify the prisoners detained in connection with the attack, and to release any detainees who have no connection to rebel activities. Since civil war broke out in the Darfur region in 2003, over 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced. Reports by the UNHCHR and the International Committee for the Red Cross [official website] have documented numerous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law [JURIST reports] based on interviews with refugees, rebel groups, and agencies and authorities working in the region.

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