After reviewing and analyzing medical records, researchers say they’ve corroborated allegations by Darfur civilians who say they were tortured, sexually assaulted, or otherwise abused by Sudanese government or Janjaweed forces in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The research was published April 3, 2012 in PLoS Medicine.
Led by Alexander Tsai, a research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Population and Development Studies, researchers reviewed medical records from 325 people who’d fled violence across Darfur and been seen between 2004 and 2006 at a Nyala, South Darfur clinic—the only one in the country providing free care to victims of torture and other human rights violations. In the majority of cases, the medical records were consistent with the abuse allegations.
Tsai told Voice of America that his findings contradict denials made by the alleged perpetrators and that he hopes the new evidence will be used by international bodies to hold perpetrators accountable for their part in the atrocities. “This is the only study so far where forensic analysis has been applied to medical records,” he said. “We really are hoping that this analysis will be used to bring the bad guys to account for their actions.”
Other Harvard researchers involved in the study included Jennifer Leaning, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at HSPH, and Mohammed A. Eisa, visiting scientist in the Department of Global Health and Population.