Khartoum (AFP) - A senior UN rights official said Wednesday that rape and inter-communal killings are still taking place in Sudan's war-scarred region of Darfur where implementation of rule of law remains weak.
Sudanese officials insist that conflict in Darfur has ended, and in January then US president Barack Obama eased sanctions against Khartoum citing a marked reduction of military activity in the country's conflict areas.
But a UN human rights expert on Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, who toured parts of Darfur last week, said that violent incidents are continuing despite a calm overall situation.
"Incidents of banditry, armed robbery, assault, killing, rape ... inter-communal clashes over farmland... remain major concerns," Nononsi told reporters in Khartoum.
He said inter-communal violence had now become a major feature of the conflict in Darfur.
"The situation has been exacerbated by overall impunity, a weak rule of law and justice institutions," he said.
From January 27 to February 18, nine rapes were reported in a displaced persons' camp at Sortoni in Darfur, Nononsi said, adding many other cases went unreported due to fear.
War in Darfur erupted in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels mounted an insurgency against the Arab-dominated government of President Omar al-Bashir complaining of economic and political marginalisation.
A total of more than 2.5 million people have been displaced by the conflict, and according to UN figures 300,000 others have been killed.
Nononsi urged Khartoum to release all activists detained arbitrarily and held without charge, including a university professor who is on indefinite hunger strike in prison.
Several opposition leaders and activists have been detained since December in a crackdown to head off widespread protests against a government decision to raise fuel prices.
Nononsi said he was concerned over "harassment, arrests and prolonged detention" of members of civil society groups by Sudan's powerful National Intelligence and Security Service.
He had raised the cases of activists like Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, the university professor who has been held since December, with Sudanese authorities.