Sudan: Jack Straw must insist on action on human rights

These have included attacks on civilians, arrests of people who dare to criticise the government and forced returns of people to villages that are highly unsafe.

The human rights organisation, which briefed Foreign Secretary this week, is calling on him to put pressure on the Sudanese government to meet UN demands to end the attacks on civilians and ensure thorough investigations into all human rights violations.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'Jack Straw must use this critical opportunity to make it starkly clear to the Sudanese government that the international community will not tolerate continuing atrocities in Darfur.

Mr Straw’s message should be that rape, torture and murder absolutely must be stopped and that perpetrators need to be brought to justice.

It is action that is needed now, not denials or empty promises.'

Despite the Sudanese government’s denial that it has been involved in attacks on civilians in Darfur, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported that the Sudanese government has recently bombed the south of Darfur. There are also reports that attacks by ‘janjawid’ militia against civilians are continuing. In the past these attacks have included massacres and the use of rape as a weapon of war.

Amnesty International also has information showing that many displaced people who have spoken to foreign government representatives and foreign journalists have been intimidated or arrested. This includes 15 men arrested in Abu Shawq camp after US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit in June.

There are also worrying reports of the Sudanese authorities forcing displaced people back to their villages. These people often do not want to return fearing renewed attacked, not least as there are reports that militia groups have settled in some of the villages concerned. Besides being unsafe many villages can no longer provide communities with a decent living as buildings have been burnt down and crops destroyed.

Kate Allen continued:

“The Sudanese government must stop trying to hide the scale of this catastrophe by forcing people back to villages that are no longer safe or sustainable.

Displaced people should be offered protection now and full support if and when they return to their homes voluntarily.”

Amnesty International also condemned the reported incorporation of members of the 'janjawid' militia into the security forces and also possibly into the Sudanese police force. The Sudanese government recently announced that it has sent up to 6,000 police to protect civilians in the camps for displaced people, but civilians say they do not trust the police who have previously been powerless when confronted with the militias, or even complicit in militia attacks.

Amnesty International is calling on the UN Security Council to:

  • impose a wide-ranging arms embargo on Sudan, including the government of Sudan

Amnesty International is calling on the Sudanese government to:

  • immediately meet its commitments to protect human rights under the UN Security Council Resolution 1556 of 30 July 2004
  • grant full access to an independent international Commission of Inquiry to determine the extent of war crimes and crimes against humanity
  • suspend immediately, pending investigations, any member of the Sudanese armed forces suspected of having committed or ordered human rights violations
  • end incommunicado detentions and release all prisoners of conscience and those detained in connection with the conflict unless they are brought to trial on recognisable criminal charges in trials which meet fair standards.

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