UNSC Visit Praised Amid Call for Intensified Protection Efforts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 19, 2010
Jonathan Hutson, 857-919-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org
Janessa Goldbeck, 202-559-7405, email@example.com
Ann Brown, 301-633-4193, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Morgan, 617-797-0451, email@example.com
Joshua Berkman, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the reported targeting by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) of displaced Darfuris who interacted with members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) during their recent visit to Sudan, leading Sudan advocacy groups including American Jewish World Service, The Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, the Save Darfur Coalition, i-ACT, Investors Against Genocide, and the Genocide Intervention Network sent a letter imploring the Council to take immediate action to protect the displaced Darfuris that risked their lives to speak with the Council, as well as to ensure security, full humanitarian access and the protection of human rights throughout Sudan. (Full text of letter below.)
According to the letter, following the Council’s visit to Darfuri IDP camps surrounding El Fashir, NISS agents began searches for those IDPs who had spoken with members of the delegation. Despite the escape of some of those targeted the NISS has succeeded in detaining other IDPs in connection with the Council’s visit.
“The Sudanese government’s targeting of IDPs in conjunction with the Council’s trip exemplifies more than the regime’s modus operandi of brutally repressing basic human rights. With these latest shocking offenses, the government has clearly signaled its disregard for the international community, the United Nations Security Council, and numerous UNSC resolutions focused on protecting human rights and ending conflict in Sudan,” the letter states.
The letter also asks for the UNSC to act to ensure the full implementation of UNAMID’s mandate to protect all civilians and that the Government of Sudan respect international standards concerning the relocation of any internally displaced persons (IDPs).
With just 82 days until a critical referendum vote that could divide Africa’s largest country, the importance of ensuring an on-time, free and fair election while monitoring and protecting human rights throughout all of Sudan is critical.
FULL TEXT OF LETTER:
19 October 2010
Ambassador Susan E. Rice
United States Mission to the United Nations
799 United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017
Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant
United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations
One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
885 Second Avenue
New York NY 10017
Cc: Missions of the Member States to the United Nations Security Council
We are writing to express both our appreciation for the Security Council’s recent trip to Sudan and our grave concern for the safety of Sudanese civilians following the Council’s visit. We implore the Council to take immediate action to ensure the safety of the displaced Darfuris who have been targeted by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in relation to their interactions with the Council. Moreover, the Council must ensure that its recent trip is only a beginning of close oversight and enhanced engagement to ensure security and protection of human rights for all Sudanese, including the full implementation of UNAMID’s mandate to protect all civilians and ensuring that the Government of Sudan respect international law concerning the relocation of any internally displaced persons (IDPs).
We are alarmed by multiple recent reports that internally displaced Darfuris who spoke to the Security Council delegation have been specifically targeted by the NISS. According to the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), following the Council’s visit to El Fashir and surrounding areas in North Darfur, NISS agents began searches for those IDPs who had spoken with members of the delegation. On October 8th, NISS reportedly agents entered Abu Shouk and Al Salam IDP camps to arrest 16 IDPs, who were able to escape arrest and interrogation by going into hiding. Despite the escape of those 16, the NISS has succeeded in detaining several other IDP in connection with the Council’s visit from Abu Shouk camp. These include Abdalla Eshag Abdul Razig, who was arrested and interrogated by the NISS over his interaction with the Security Council delegation in a marketplace; and Mohamed Abdalla Mohamed, who was reportedly detained for a speech he made at a demonstration in El Fashir calling for the UNSC to implement outstanding resolutions on Sudan.
Targeting of IDP leaders and advocates for peace and human rights is far from a new tactic for the Government of Sudan. According to ACJPS, two of the IDPs who were sought for arrest by the NISS after the Council’s visit had previously been detained for over a year before their release in September. But the Sudanese government’s targeting of IDPs in conjunction with the Council’s trip exemplifies more than the regime’s modus operandi of brutally repressing basic human rights. With these latest shocking offenses, the government has clearly signaled its disregard for the international community, the United Nations Security Council, and numerous UNSC resolutions focused on protecting human rights and ending conflict in Sudan. The Security Council must now stand with the displaced Darfuris who risked their safely in interacting with the Council, especially those who remain in detention. It must immediately make clear to the Government of Sudan that such arbitrary arrests and detentions are unacceptable.
Also, we ask the Security Council to instruct the UNAMID peacekeeping force to fully implement its mandate to protect civilians throughout Darfur, and support UNAMID in pushing back against restrictions on movement and access continuously imposed by the Sudanese government. While the Security Council’s expressions of support for UNAMID during its recent trip were welcome, far greater political and technical support for the mission is needed. The abduction of a UNAMID staff member while the Council was in Sudan exemplifies the daily challenges UNAMID faces in protecting itself and Darfuri civilians. In addition, the Council must direct UNAMID to prioritize its core mission of protecting civilians and providing security in Darfur over any involvement in “peacebuilding” or development efforts. Not only do such activities distract focus and resources from the mission’s core mandate, but successful recovery and development work in Darfur will be impossible without significant and lasting improvements in protection and security.
We also welcome the Security Council’s promise to address the ongoing insecurity and restrictions on humanitarian access during its visit to the Darfur region, and ask that the Council direct its attention to reports of the Government of Sudan’s plans to disband the Kalma IDP camp. Please tell the Government of Sudan to halt the closure of any IDP camp until it can be confirmed by independent human rights monitors that any movement of IDPs or other Darfuri civilians is voluntary and in accordance with international standards. Please ensure that independent human rights monitors have the capacity and the ability to rapidly document and publicly report any human rights violations by the Government of Sudan, armed movements or militias. The Council must also continue to press the Government of Sudan and all armed groups in Darfur to allow full and open humanitarian access throughout Darfur, including to existing IDP camps.
The Security Council’s trip to Sudan was a vital step toward positive engagement to improve the daily lives of civilians in Darfur and throughout Sudan. The Council must not only act now to protect the Darfuri IDPs who risked their safety to speak with Council members, but also work to ensure security and full humanitarian access and protect human rights throughout Sudan.
Save Darfur Coalition
American Jewish World Service
The Enough Project at the Center for American Progress
Investors Against Genocide
Genocide Intervention Network