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Amnesty International: Amnesty International Urges African Leaders' Summit to Turn Attention to Kenya Violence and Reject Sudan's Latest Bid for African Union Presidency

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2008
10:33 AM

CONTACT: Amnesty International
Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150

 
Amnesty International Urges African Leaders' Summit to Turn Attention to Kenya Violence
and Reject Sudan's Latest Bid for African Union Presidency
 

NEW YORK - January 31 - Amnesty International today urged African heads of state gathered in Ethiopia for the African Union (AU) Assembly to address the escalating violence in Kenya, including finding and prosecuting those responsible, and to reject Sudan's bid to become president of the AU because of continuing human rights abuses Darfur.

"As the heads of state gather, they must keep at the forefront of their minds the massive human rights problems ordinary Africans are facing -- and do whatever they can to tackle these problems and work towards finding solutions," said Kolawole Olaniyan, Amnesty International's legal advisor on Africa.

The organization issued a list of recommended actions to the AU, focused in particular on the ongoing human rights violations in Sudan and Kenya.

Amnesty International called on the AU Assembly to reject Sudan's bid to become president of the AU. The presidency will be determined during the three-day summit.

"The government of Sudan has consistently failed to live up to its commitments in Darfur and has continually constructed barriers to the full and speedy deployment of the United Nations peacekeepers," said Scott Edwards, Sudan country specialist for AIUSA.

"Khartoum has made the work of humanitarian aid providers more difficult through administrative harassment; it has refused to disarm proxy militia responsible for the suffering in Darfur and it has refused to cooperate with the international community in bringing perpetrators to justice," said Edwards.

Sudan failed in its bids for the AU presidency in 2006 and 2007 following public backlash for the government's continued targeting of civilians and for blocking peacekeeping operations necessary to protect civilians and ensure the delivery of desperately needed basic assistance.

Amnesty International also called on the Assembly to urgently establish an AU Commission of Inquiry into unlawful killings and other grave human rights abuses in Kenya, and insist that those found responsible are brought to justice in line with international standards for fair trial.

The organization was informed of serious death threats being made against prominent human rights defenders and activists in Kenya and called on the Kenyan government to ensure their safety and protection.

"African heads of state must press the Kenyan government and political leaders to take all lawful measures to ensure an immediate halt to the violence and publicly declare their commitment to respecting and protecting the human rights of all Kenyan citizens," said Olaniyan.

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