Since 1995, many human rights organizations have reported on contemporary practice, especially in the context of the Second Sudanese civil war. Both the government-backed militias and the rebels (led by the SPLA) have been found guilty of abducting civilians, according a 2002 report issued by the International Eminent Persons Group, acting with the encouragement of the US State Department. According to the Rift Valley Institute's Sudan Abductee Database, over 11,000 people were abducted in 20 years of slave-raiding in southern Sudan.
The Sudanese government has claimed that the slavery is the product of inter-tribal warfare, over which it had no control. Human Rights Watch, rejects this and states that the government is involved in backing and arming numerous militias in the country. It has also found the government has failed to enforce Sudanese laws against kidnapping, assault and forced labor. Police rarely help victims' families in locating their children. While the Sudan Criminal Code of 1991 does not list slavery as a crime, Sudan has ratified the Slavery Convention, the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, and is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
However, many Christian and non-Christian groups, have stated that the situation suffers from inaccurate reporting and that slave numbers are sometimes exaggerated and many slave stories have been fabricated. Italian missionary, Father Mario Riva and others who have witnessed "slave redemptions" have claimed that the process was a fraud as some of the "freed slaves" were collected by the SPLA with the promise of receiving money.
History of slavery in the Sudan
Prisoners of war were regularly enslaved by the ancient Egyptians, including Nubians.
Soon after the Arabs conquered Egypt, they attempted to conquer Nubia; their efforts were
unsuccessful, and in 652 they signed a treaty with the Nubian kingdom of Makuria, the Baqt. Under this treaty, the Nubians agreed to supply 360 slaves annually to their northern neighbors.
After the Nubian kingdoms' fall in 1504, the Funj came to the fore; these began to use slaves in the army in the reign of Badi III (r. 1692-1711). Following their own fall, the area again became a field for Egyptian slavers; notably, the ruler Muhammad Ali of Egypt attempted to build up an army of
Southern Sudanese slaves. Slavery was banned by the colonial British after they conquered the region.