NEW YORK - January 25 - Human Rights First today called on member states of the African Union (AU) to reject Sudan’s reported push to head the regional body, in light of the mass human rights atrocities being committed by Sudanese government agents in Darfur.
“Any attempt by Sudan to head the African Union must be met with a strong rebuke by the other member states,” says Betsy Apple, Director of the Crimes Against Humanity Program at Human Rights First. “Allowing Sudan to head the AU when the human rights situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate would call into serious question, if not completely undermine, the AU’s commitment to ending the violence there.”
As the situation in Darfur worsens, the government of Sudan has worked diligently to obstruct the full deployment of UNAMID, the UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping operation that is being deployed to end the violence in Darfur. The government of Sudan’s contempt towards UNAMID was demonstrated most dramatically on January 7th, when members of the Sudanese armed forces opened fired on a UNAMID convey in Darfur.
“It appears that Sudan’s reported bid to head the AU is the latest avenue the government is pursuing to ensure that UNAMID does not become fully operational in Darfur. AU member states must not hand Sudan this opportunity to further stall UNAMID’s life saving operations in Darfur,” stated Apple.
The UNAMID deployment is not the only thing that will be threatened should Sudan succeed in its reported attempt to head the AU. Human Rights First believes that it would likely hinder the fragile peace process in Darfur, and further delay attempts by the International Criminal Court to hold individuals accountable for mass atrocities that have occurred in Darfur.
“The AU needs to be led by a country that will do all it can to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the violence in Darfur; putting Sudan at the helm would guarantee just the opposite,” explained Apple.