New Report by UN Expert Panel Details Violations of Arms Embargo and Widespread Human Rights Abuses in Darfur

Washington, DC Human Rights First urges the Obama Administration to take immediate and firm action in response to a new investigative report issued by experts monitoring the United Nations arms embargo on Sudan. The report, released late yesterday, reveals ongoing and systematic abuses against civilians in Darfur and provides detailed evidence of violations of the embargo and related Security Council resolutions by the Government of Sudan and other belligerents.

The panel of experts findings come less than a month after the United States announced its new Sudan policy, which calls for the use of both pressure and incentives to move all parties toward peace. Human Rights First noted that the U.S. government must not miss this important opportunity to put its policy into action and hold accountable those who continue to inflict violence on the people of Darfur.

“The release of this report tests the Obama Administration’s new Sudan policy. The Sudanese government’s violations of international law must be met with both condemnation by the U.S. and clear action to ensure that these multilateral sanctions are enforced,” stated Human Rights First’s Julia Fromholz. “The U.S. does a commendable job of enforcing its own unilateral sanctions on Sudan. The UN sanctions deserve similar enforcement, a step that would help change the military and political dynamic in Darfur.”

The Panel of Experts report confirms that most of the major armed actors in the Darfur conflict have continued to blatantly violate the United Nations (UN) arms embargo, a law that has been in place in its current form since 2005. The report also found that these same armed actors continue to flout international humanitarian and human rights law. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) is cited as the most active violator of the arms embargo, but the actions of the Sudanese government also command particular attention and serious action from policymakers. The Government of Sudan has inhibited the work of the Panel of Experts, failed to disarm the Janjaweed militias, continued to rotate military personnel and materiel into Darfur without regard to UN Security Resolutions, and committed and permitted violence against civilians.

The Panel of Experts report offers a detailed account of its monitoring of weapons and military equipment in Darfur, as well as ammunition, which is largely of Chinese origin. It describes the use by all belligerents of militarized civilian vehicles in violent attacks against civilians, and it cites frequent offensive military overflights in Darfur being carried out by the Sudanese military. The report notes on several occasions the refusal of the Sudanese government to cooperate with the Panel and to respect UN sanctions.

The Panel’s report also highlights widespread and serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and identifies the Sudanese government security forces and Janjaweed militias as primarily responsible. It describes women and children as especially victimized, with sexual and gender-based violence “rampant.” Finally, the report includes a focus on the role of corporations, whose products and services affect the ability of all parties in Darfur to sustain the conflict, and calls for due diligence procedures to ensure transparency, accountability, and cooperation with UN sanctions.

“The Panel of Experts describes an urgent need for an intensified effort by the UN Security Council to ensure the cooperation of the Government of Sudan, and the U.S. must immediately assert leadership to that end,” Fromholz observed. “The U.S. understandably wishes to avoid the appearance of unilateral actions on the world stage, but that is no excuse for abdicating its role of standing firmly for human rights. The United States and others who publicly promote peace in Sudan must hold accountable those who are directly engaged in the violence against civilians in Darfur, as well as those countries and corporations that violate the embargo and whose products and actions are used to sustain the conflict. Unless existing international sanctions are enforced, the Sudanese government and its allies will feel no pressure to change their ways, and civilians will continue to suffer in Darfur.”

See additional information about Human Rights First’s work on this issue by visiting http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/cah/index.asp.

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Published on November 6, 2009

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