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

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Brenda Bowser Soder
bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org
202-370-3323 - office

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

Human Rights First Says Evidence against Sudanese Government Presents Opportunity and Obligation for U.S. Leadership

WASHINGTON - 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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Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.

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