More than one million people may have died, with millions more forcibly displaced, since todays ongoing civil war broke out in Sudan in 1983.1 The fightingat times pitting rival opposition factions against each other, as well as against the governmenthas caused enormous hardship to the civilian population, particularly in the south, where human rights violations by all sides in the fighting are chronic, and war-caused famines have become a recurring event. This conflict is spreading to other regions of the country and is linked to guerrilla wars in neighboring Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda. A steady flow of arms into the Horn of Africa for the past half century has fueled the fighting and multiplied its lethal impact on the civilian population.
Human Rights Watch began its investigation of the arms trade feeding the Sudanese civil war in 1996, concentrating on types of armaments, sources of arms supply, channels of arms distribution, and the connection between arms flows and already identified human rights abusers, rather than the documentation and analysis of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law (the rules of war).2
This research documented a steadily intensifying series of conflicts and conflicts-within-conflicts generally ignored by the international media, but not by global arms traders: The evidence shows a pattern of significant arms transfers to long-established human rights abusersthe government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA)that is serving to intensify the conflicts within and around Sudan and increasing their impact on civilians there. Ever larger civilian populations are at risk, often due directly to the types of weapons used (for example, antipersonnel landmines) or to the way in which they are used. The entire region remains awash in cold war-era arms, while the spread of combat in the 1990s has prompted further arms imports that are aggravating an already dangerous situation.
According to at least one report, Sudan, one of the worlds poorest countries, experienced the biggest relative arms build-up in the world in 1995, a rise in arms purchases and military aid received that is estimated at 44 percent over the previous year.3 Neighboring Uganda ratcheted up its military budget from $81 million in 1994 to $131 million in 1996.4 The wars involving these states and the movements which they support have already taken an appalling civilian toll. During the first half of 1998, the regions of Bahr El Ghazal and Western Upper Nile, both in southern Sudan, were the scenes of so many attacks on civilians and civilian objects that by mid-July about 2.4 millionsoutherners were at risk of famine, almost one-tenth of the entire Sudanese population.5 The continuation of this trend unchecked is likely to accelerate large-scale migrations and could also fuel a disastrous regional war, with all its predictable consequences on the civilian population.
Today, weapons continue to be transferred to the various armed forces involved in the conflict at an alarming rate. The flow of arms is also becoming more complex, involving Sudan as a hub for weapons distribution to armed groups operating in countries in the immediate region and beyond, as well as for transshipment to warring parties as far away as the Middle East and Eastern Europe, while Sudan's neighbors arm opposition groups trying to topple the Khartoum government.
The circle of countries and individual actors involved in this escalating violence stretches from the immediate region across Central and North Africa, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf to Eastern Europe and Asia, drawing in some of the worlds major arms dealersmainly China and former Soviet republics and other former Warsaw Pact states. This appears to be a largely profit-driven trade, rather than politically-motivated intervention. The largest of these arms merchants, China, also deals freely with Sudans hostile neighbors, Eritrea and Ethiopia. The striking exceptions in this regard are Iran, Iraq, and Malaysia, whose involvement stems from political commitments to the present government in Khartoum.
The external actors most directly involved in arming the Government of Sudan have been China, former Soviet bloc states, South Africa, and Iran, while Iraq has been a key provider of technical assistance and military training, and Malaysia has provided crucial funds for arms purchases. Iran's support has included hundreds of advisors who provided political and security training; in particular they have overseen the organization and expansion of Sudan's main armed militias, the Popular Defence Forces (PDF). Iranian advisors have also supported armed Islamist groups from other countries which are based in Sudan. There is also evidence that Iran has helped finance some of Sudans arms purchases. Irans role as a direct arms supplier increased as the government faced escalating military challenges from the opposition in 1997. Another country that has supported the government of Sudan, at least until 1995, is France, which pursued a policy unique among western nations. Its support has included sharing satellite intelligence with Sudan on SPLA movements in 1994, as well as providing military training and technical assistance, and assisting the government of Sudan in negotiating access to neighboring francophone states to carry out attacks on the SPLA.
The arms flows to Sudan illustrate a pattern characteristic of the post-cold war international arms trade: armaments, and the ammunition that goes with them, are increasingly acquired in discrete units from a wide range of sources which do not necessarily have relationships with any of the other suppliers, rather than as comprehensive packages from a single political patron (or from a bloc of political allies). The government of Sudan has such patrons in Iran and Iraqan odd couple under any circumstanceseach of which is aiding Sudans war effort above and beyond its immediate economic interests. However, neither Iran nor Iraq has the capacity to meet Sudans arms needs by itself, so Khartoum continues to do a brisk business in the global arms bazaar. In the mid-1990s, the government of Sudan began to pump oil from long dormant wells in south-central Sudan, mainly for internal consumption. This enhanced the countrys international credit and helped make it possible for the government, which is essentially mortgaging future oil revenues, to step up its arms purchases. The government of Sudan itself has been actively engaged in training, equipping, and in other ways supporting armed groups which are spreading violence throughout the immediate region and beyond, for example the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), which has operated in southern Sudan and northern Uganda.
For their part, the Sudanese opposition groups, operating under the umbrella of a coalition known as theNational Democratic Alliance (NDA), have received political, military and logistical support from key neighboring states. Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda appear firmly behind efforts to overthrow the current Sudanese government and install the opposition in its place in Khartoum. They have been engaged in arming and training Sudanese opposition forces, and the Sudanese government has charged that the armed forces of these states have been directly engaged in combat within Sudans borders. The Human Rights Watch investigation confirmed that Uganda has provided access and supplies to the SPLA operating in southern Sudan, while Ugandan forces have at times participated directly in combat within Sudan in joint operations with the SPLA targeted at both Sudanese government forces and Ugandan rebels. Ethiopia has provided access and supplies to the SPLA and the Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF) in western Ethiopia and has ferried supplies to the SPLA in northern Uganda. Eritrea has provided bases and training in western Eritrea for a wide range of anti-government groups, including but not limited to the SAF, the SPLA and the Beja Congress. Eritrea assisted the SPLA with tanks and tank trainers and with reconnaissance units in the major SPLA attack in southern Sudan of March-April 1997. The NDA has its headquarters in Eritrea.
Uganda, Ethiopia, and Eritrea all have large stores of cold war-era arms at their disposal left over from the U.S., Israel, the former Soviet Union, Eastern European states, North Korea, and other arms suppliers. Soviet aid to Ethiopia in 1977-90 alone totaled more than $12 billion and included heavy armor, artillery, and aircraft, as well as vast quantities of light and medium arms. More recently, these three states have received military and political support from the United States, which also has imposed unilateral economic and military sanctions on Sudan. In 1997, the U.S. provided Uganda and Ethiopia with arms and military training for their participation in an African Rapid Deployment Force, as well as nonlethal military equipment, explicitly to assist them against attacks launched from armed opposition groups based in Sudan.
In recent years, the government of Sudan has continued to enhance its conventional arms capability through the acquisition of large quantities of light and medium arms and ammunition, medium tanks, and artillery and air power. Increasing use of the Sudanese governments air power since 1996, including random attacks on non-military targets, has adversely affected civilians, injuring or killing some and displacing others. The documented use in combat of Mi-24 helicopter gunships, acquired in 1996-97, and the increased use of MiG fighter-bombers and Antonov-26 and other transport planes for bombing runs reflect this new direction in Sudans long-running civil war. These attacks have had considerably more impact on civilians than on combatants, and have contributed to the displacement of tens of thousands of civilians in eastern and northeastern Sudan, the sites of new fighting in 1997 and 1998.
The acquisition by the government of Sudan in 1997 of substantial numbers of a modified version of the classic Soviet T-54 tanka Chinese-made model, known as the T-59suggests a possible further intensification of the conflict. If, in addition, the government of Sudan has managed to acquire SCUD missiles, as is alleged by a Sudanese diplomat who defected in 1997, the potential exists for a widening of the regional scope of the conflict, and possibly an intensification of the fighting itself.
Among the other weapons having a direct impact on civilians in the war are antipersonnel landmines. Human Rights Watch observed hundreds of landmines of many typessome whose origins traced back to the 1950s and 1960s, others of recent vintagein Sudanese government military storage areas in southern Sudan captured in 1997 by opposition forces.6 Human Rights Watch also observed large numbers of landmines of the same types and nearlyidentical lot numbers in areas of neighboring Eritrea and Uganda, taken from rebel groups supported by the government of Sudan. While all sides of the conflicts within Sudan and in neighboring states have accused each other of deploying landmines, the main evidence Human Rights Watch saw of their use was by the government of Sudan. Human Rights Watch intends to monitor the government of Sudans compliance with the new international treaty banning the production, trade, stockpiling and use of antipersonnel landmines, which the government signed in December 1997.
For its part, the SPLA has a substantial mechanized fleet of tanks and armored cars, some of which it claims to have captured from the government of Sudan in 1996 and 1997. Others were provided by Ethiopia in the 1980s or obtained from sources on the international arms market via Uganda in the 1990s. The SAF is also known to have acquired T-55 tankscapturing them from the government of Sudan in April 1997and is said by its own leaders to be using them in combat. The presence of such arms, as well as artillery, makes it likely that there will be further bouts of conventional warfare in and around major population centers, such as Juba, Wau, and Malakal in the south and Gedaref and Kassala in the northeast.
The conflict has already contributed to food shortages in Juba and other southern garrison towns, many of which have been under prolonged siege, while attacks by government-supported forces on civilians in Bahr El Ghazal over the past few years have been instrumental in causing the 1998 famine there, as was the two-month ban on all relief airdrops by Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) to that region in February and March 1998. The government of Sudan has frequently halted deliveries to other SPLA-controlled rural areas and, on occasion, bombed relief sites, killing and injuring destitute civilians. The disruption of emergency relief operations by pro-government forces fighting each other in Western Upper Nile in 1998both factions armed heavily by the governmenthas threatened the civilian population there with starvation. The danger of famine will only worsen if the attacks on civilians, fueled by the arms race, continue.
Violations of Human Rights and the Call for an International Arms Embargo
Human Rights Watch holds that armed forces that commit serious violations of international human rights or humanitarian law (the laws of war), be they governmental or rebel groups, should not be further armed by members of the international community. When it concerns gross violations of an ongoing nature, an international embargo with which states must scrupulously comply should be imposed on all parties that commit such violations, if offenders are to be pressed to end their abusive conduct. The implementation of the terms of such an embargo represents one means through which the international community can avoid complicity in continuing abuses in Sudan.
Violations of human rights and the laws of war have been widespread, systematic, and prolonged throughout the civil war in Sudan. Government forces have committed gross abuses of international humanitarian law, including looting of civilian property and enslaving women and children during raids on villages; indiscriminate aerial bombardment by high-flying aircraft; the use of antipersonnel landmines; torture, disappearance, and the summary execution of captured SPLA combatants and civilians; and the repeated denial of access for humanitarian agencies to areas of assessed civilian need without regard to human deprivation. The government has also banned political parties and restricted expression, except in debate by members of the National Islamic Front (NIF), the de facto ruling party in Sudan, now known as the National Congress, and has committed other abuses arising from its declared intention to create an Arab Islamic state, including discrimination against Sudanese non-Arabs and non-Muslims.7
The SPLA, the most influential member of the NDA, has also committed gross abuses of human rights and the laws of war, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians; the forced recruitment of underage boys; looting anddiversion of food; and torture, disappearance, and summary executions.8
From a moral perspective, it is unconscionable for states to continue to provide military support to forces that commit gross violations of human rights and the laws of war. Moreover, a continuous flow of weapons and other forms of military support encourages further abuses, as it provides the recipients with both military materiel with which to wage war, a sense that the international community condones their activities, and therefore a sense of impunity. For this reason, although curbing the flow of arms to Sudan alone is not likely to end serious violations of human rights immediately, measures aimed at stemming the flow ought to be considered as a way of sending a strong signal to all sides in the war that their abusive conduct will no longer be accepted by the international community.
The Council of the European Union (E.U.) instituted an embargo on the export of arms, ammunition, and military equipment to Sudan that came into effect on March 16, 1994.9 The implementation of this embargo, which covers weapons designed to kill and their ammunition, weapon platforms, non-weapon platforms and ancillary equipment, as well as spare parts, repairs, maintenance and transfer of military technology, is the responsibility of the E.U. member states, but effective monitoring mechanisms do not exist. Moreover, the European Court of Justice is not competent to rule on Pillar Two (foreign policy) issues, leaving remedies for violations of the embargo within the political ambit of the council. The United Nations Security Council, which has considered the possibility of imposing an arms embargo on Sudan, so far has failed to institute one, although it has imposed other sanctions on the government of Sudan.10 These sanctions were a response not to the grave human rights situation in Sudan or the serious violations of international humanitarian law that have occurred in the civil war, but to Sudans failure to extradite three men suspected of having been involved in the attempt on the life of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, in Addis Ababa on June 26, 1995.
In light of the continuing grave human rights situation in Sudan, Human Rights Watch calls on the international community to immediately institute an arms embargo against both the government of Sudan and anti-government insurgents united in the NDA in order to send a strong signal to all sides in the war that their abusive conduct will no longer be tolerated. The European Unions arms embargo on Sudan appears by and large to have been effective; it now needs to be extended to the international community as such. An international embargo should remain in place until all sides have put a halt to serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and have brought to justice serious offenders.
In order to stem the flow of arms to all sides in the wars within Sudan and in the conflicts that involve Sudan-based rebel groups operating in neighboring countries, Human Rights Watch calls on the international community and individual states to implement the following set of recommendations:
· Impose an international arms embargo on the sale or supply of arms and ammunition, as well as militarymaterial and services, against all sides in the civil war in Sudanprincipally the government of Sudan and the SPLA and other groups within the NDA, but also including the ethnically-based and other militias operating in Sudan with Sudanese government support and the rebel groups operating in neighboring countries with Sudanese government support. The embargo on any party to the conflict should continue until its responsible authorities have put an end to serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and have brought to justice serious offenders.
In all cases, two key conditions should obtain: First, an arms embargo should be applied equally to the principal sides. This means that neighboring states which have armed, trained and equipped Sudanese opposition forces must be put under binding obligation to implement the embargo fully and show evidence that they have done so. Secondly, the embargo should be enforced actively and systematically by the international community in order for it to be comprehensive and credible.
As long as there is no international arms embargo on parties to the war in Sudan, individual members of the international community should prohibit the transfer of weapons and military goods to any of the sides, and prohibit the licensing of private sales to these forces. Once they institute such a national embargo, they should announce the decision publicly.
· Strengthen and extend the E.U. arms embargo now nominally in effect for Sudan. Although the E.U. is theoretically a more cohesive political body than the U.N., it has a similar voluntary system of monitoring its arms embargoes, based upon information provided by its members. The E.U. should develop monitoring mechanisms, investigate reported violations, and hold member states and their nationals accountable for such violations.
· Impose an Organization of African Unity (O.A.U.) moratorium on the sale of arms and ammunition to the warring parties in Sudan. In recent years, African states have become major sources for the direct supply and/or transshipment of arms to other countries and non-state military forces throughout the continent. The interrelationships among warring parties in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region underline the need for an African initiative to bring peace and stability to the region before these conflicts escalate and spread further.
· Insist on strict adherence to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which bans the manufacture, transfer, use, and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines, and press the warring parties to desist from deploying antitank mines against civilian targets by such means as placing them on roads used by civilian traffic.
· Deploy U.N. or O.A.U. military observers at key border crossings, airstrips, and ports in the Horn of Africa, including, and especially, in Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda, as well as in Kenya and Congo. Refusal of access or obstruction of the tasks of these military observers by any one of the governments in question should be reported publicly by the authority (U.N. or O.A.U.) charged with carrying out this mandate.
· Convene a regional conference on arms trafficking, security and human rights in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region under the auspices of either the O.A.U., the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)whose members include Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, and Ugandaor an ad hoc group of states in the region.
· Establish a regional arms control agency under the O.A.U., building on the conflict resolution programs of both the O.A.U. and IGAD. This agency should be empowered to investigate members compliance with the international arms embargo, the O.A.U. moratorium, and other arms control mechanisms, andprepared to report its findings to the U.N. Security Council, the O.A.U., and IGAD. This agency could emerge from the regional security conference.
· Create national mechanisms to support an international arms embargo, including the establishment of offices in states neighboring Sudan whose tasks would be to monitor, implement, and enforce the operation of the embargo on their own territory.
· Enact and implement domestic legislation enabling the prosecution of nationals who sell weapons, ammunition, military materiel (including dual-use equipment) or military services to the warring sides in Sudan or to forces operating elsewhere from bases in Sudan, even if such nationals operate on the territory of other states.
· Create a voluntary register of movements and acquisitions of small arms, ammunition, and military materiel and personnel to which all states in the Horn of Africa would submit full information about their purchases and knowledge of transactions on an annual basis.
· Provide resources for comprehensive demining and mine victim assistance programs in Sudan and in neighboring states where rebel groups have been laying landmines.
· Make public all arms transfers since 1983 to the government of Sudan and the SPLA, as well as other members of the NDA, including types and quantities of weapons, ammunition, military materiel (including dual-use equipment), and military services.
· Strictly enforce existing export controls on weapons (especially light weapons and small arms) and military and security services.
· Create a voluntary U.N. register of light weapons and small arms that would complement the existing U.N. conventional arms register.
· Adopt a code of conduct on arms transfers by international or regional entities like the U.N., the O.A.U, IGAD and others.
· Support new initiatives aimed at curbing the flow of arms into conflict-ridden zones, such as the new E.U. program to combat the illicit traffic in conventional arms.
To states neighboring Sudan, in addition to the above measures:
· Comply with the sanctions and embargoes imposed on Sudan, and extend their scope to Sudanese armed opposition groups operating within or outside Sudan.
· Refrain from issuing false end-user certificates for weapons destined in reality for the government of Sudan, militias, or rebel forces, and prevent Sudanese nationals acting on behalf of the government of Sudan, militias, or rebel forces from procuring, importing, or transshipping weapons in the name of your government.
To the Government of Sudan:
· Respect international humanitarian law and human rights law, particularly the prohibitions ontargeting civilians and civilian objects, indiscriminate attacks, looting, and unnecessary destruction of civilian property.
· Cease to arm and support allied rebel groups that have committed abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law, such as the Lords Resistance Army.
· Ratify the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty as soon as possible and respect its provisions immediately, particularly the prohibitions on any use or transfer of antipersonnel mines. Begin the destruction of stockpiled mines. Take steps to establish a systematic nationwide mine clearance and mine awareness program, including a national survey.
· Sign and accede to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, and accede to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and the 1977 Protocols I and II Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
To Rebel Groups Belonging to the National Democratic Alliance:
· Respect international humanitarian law and human rights law, particularly the prohibitions on targeting civilians and civilian objects, indiscriminate attacks, looting, and unnecessary destruction of civilian property.
· Respect the provisions of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, particularly the prohibition on any use of antipersonnel mines. Facilitate efforts aimed at mine clearance and mine awareness in areas which groups affiliated with the NDA control.
Human Rights Watch calls on the international community and individual member states to implement the above measures. It also calls on states named in this report to investigate the allegations made here, and prosecute persons found to have violated these states own national laws or international laws binding on these states.
A Note on Methodology
The findings of this report are based on an investigation by the Arms division of Human Rights Watch conducted between mid-1996 and the first half of 1998, including visits to Eritrea (September 1996 and February-March 1997), Ethiopia (September 1996 and February-March 1997), Uganda (July 1997), eastern Sudan (March 1997), southern Sudan (July 1997), and Khartoum (November 1997). In addition, a researcher with the Africa division of Human Rights Watch visited southern Sudan and the Nuba mountains in October 1997 and again in May 1998, and she and a second researcher visited northern Uganda in April-May 1998.
During this extended investigation, Human Rights Watch interviewed numerous and varied sources, including: officials of the governments of Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda; officials and commanders of the NDA, SPLA and SAF; Sudanese Army defectors; Sudanese prisoners of war (held by the SPLA and the SAF); child soldiers who had escaped from the Lords Resistance Army; diplomats; and representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the region. This investigation has also relied on extensive document research. To the best of its ability, Human Rights Watch cross-checked information obtained from these various sources against information provided by other sources to assure its accuracy. Allegations and denials voiced by government or rebel officials have been reported here as such. Several important eyewitnesses whose information was used for this report were recent defectors from the Sudanese armed forces or other government agencies with specific knowledge of certain events by which their claims couldbe cross-checked. To protect these eyewitnesses, we have, where necessary, withheld reference to the specific circumstances under which they obtained their information.
Human Rights Watch was permitted to see and photograph arms said to have belonged to the government of Sudan but held by rebel forces, and was able to see, but prohibited from photographing, weapons used by rebel forces. Human Rights Watch also collected arms debris in areas where fighting had occurred. During a visit to Khartoum in November 1997, Human Rights Watch was told it could visit garrison towns to view arms the government of Sudan claimed to have captured from rebel forces, but repeated subsequent requests to the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C., had failed to meet with a positive response as of the middle of August 1998.11
In March 1998, Human Rights Watch wrote to the governments of Belarus, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Croatia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Romania, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Uganda, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates, requesting a response to specific information linking them to the provision of arms and/or other forms of military supportby these governments or by their nationalsto either or both sides in the Sudanese civil war. By the middle of August 1998, responses were received only from the governments of Chile, Ethiopia (both in writing), and Bulgaria (by telephone), while the government of South Africa wrote to say that it had received our correspondence and was looking into the matters raised in it. The responses from the governments of Chile, Ethiopia, and Bulgaria have been included in this report.1 This figure includes deaths from war-related injury, as well as from other factors such as hunger and disease. All casualty figures are estimates, as no reliable numbers are available. See Millard Burr, A Working Document: Quantifying Genocide in the Southern Sudan 1983-1993 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Committee for Refugees, October 1993), p. 2. 2 For an analysis of human rights abuses in Sudan by the government and by opposition forces, see Human Rights Watch, World Report 1998 (New York: 1997), pp. 72-78; and Human Rights Watch/Africa, Behind the Red Line: Political Repression in Sudan (New York: May 1996). For specifically war-related abuses, see Human Rights Watch/Africa, Civilian Devastation: Abuses by All Parties in the War in Southern Sudan (New York: June 1994). 3 For details, see the Bonn International Centre for Conversion, cited in Kevin Liffey, Decade of Disarmament Brings Slow Peace Dividend, Reuter, April 16, 1996. Holdings of major weapons in Sudan increased by one hundred percent from 1989 t o 1996. B.I.C.C., Conversion Survey 1998 (Oxford University Press: London, 1998), p. 298. 4 International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance: 1997-98 (London: Oxford University Press, October 1997), p. 231. 5 World Food Program, Press Release, New York, July 10, 1998.
6 According to the United Nations, there are probably between 500,000 and 2 million landmines in the ground in Sudan. U.N. Department of Humanitarian Affairs, Mine Clearance and Policy Unit, The Landmine Situation in Sudan: Assessment Situation, Mission Report, August 1997, p. 10.
7 See Human Rights Watch, World Report 1998, pp. 72-75.
8 Ibid., pp. 75-76.
9 Council Decision of 15 March 1994 on the common position defined on the basis of Article J.2 of the Treaty on European Union (94/165/CFSP), Official Journal of the European Communities, No. L 75/1 (March 17, 1994). Arms supplied under contracts signed prior to the entry-into-force of the embargo are not included in the embargo.
10 In 1996, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1054, calling on U.N. member states to institute travel restrictions on Sudanese government officials, and Resolution 1070, imposing a ban on flights by Sudanese Government-controlled aircraft.
11 After government officials in Khartoum made their oral commitment to a visit by Human Rights Watch in November 1997, Human Rights Watch wrote to the Sudanese ambassador in Washington, Dr. Mahdi Ibrahim Mohamed, on December 16, reiterating the request. On January 23, 1998, Dr. Mohamed informed the executive director of Human Rights Watchs Arms Division, Joost Hiltermann, by telephone that his government welcomed a second visit by Human Rights Watch but that it would have to be postponed as an expected and imminent rebel offensive in the south had raised concerns in Khartoum about the missions safety. Human Rights Watch wrote again to Ambassador Mohamed on April 2, April 29, and June 11, 1998, pointing out that the situation in the south had stabilized, and that journalists, for example, had been permitted to visit the garrison town of Juba. No reply to these letters was received.
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