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Human Rights Watch commends the Peace and Security Council’s decision to expand the numbers of troops in the African Union mission in Sudan (AMIS), made at its 28th meeting on April 28, 2005. We note with dismay, however, that the number of AMIS forces currently deployed on the ground remains too low to contain the violence rampant in Darfur.

We note with dismay, however, that the number of AMIS forces currently deployed on the ground remains too low to contain the violence rampant in Darfur. While Human Rights Watch appreciates your commitment to strengthen AMIS to a second phase target of 6,171 military personnel and 1,560 civilian police (and staff) by the end of September 2005, we are concerned that this number of troops is still too low and the projected rate of deployment too slow to meet the urgent security needs in Darfur.

We urge you to move immediately to the third phase described in the Chairperson’s Report that calls for an increase in AMIS by spring 2006 to “some 12,300 military, police and civilian personnel.” The Chairperson defined the benchmark for achievement of a secure environment in Phase 3 as “the return and resumption of livelihoods of IDPs and refugees with levels of security comparable to that which existed before the outbreak of the current conflict, in February 2003.” This increase in troops to 12,300 would “contribute to a secure environment throughout Darfur in order to enable full returns of displaced persons” (paragraph 115).

We agree entirely with the Chairperson that this benchmark should be AMIS’ goal for Darfur which is, in effect, the goal of reversing ethnic cleansing. The Chairperson stated in his report that putting in place the security conditions to achieve this benchmark is already within the current mandate of AMIS (paragraph 106).

We urge you to commit to and deploy the12,300 military, police and civilian personnel without delay and not wait until Spring 2006. The Chairperson suggested that a decision to initiate the third phase would need to be taken by September 2005—to facilitate the presence of those numbers of troops in Darfur by the spring 2006 planting season. However, if displaced persons are to return to their homes for the 2006 planting season, then AMIS forces will need to be deployed in the rural areas months in advance of that date so that communities can return and rebuild prior to preparing their lands.

The current realities of Darfur require no less than 12,300 AMIS forces in the field at the earliest possible date. It is clear, as described in the reports of AMIS, the United Nations and other sources on the ground, that displacement and attacks on civilians continue. It is clear that the government has completely failed to contribute to a secure environment and has repeatedly failed to curb the militias known as “Janjaweed,” despite repeated promises (paragraphs 29, 105). As noted in the Chairperson’s report, “the security situation on the ground has not improved with the reinforcement of additional GoS police” (paragraph 110); “the assumptions on which the Mission was planned, particularly the ability of the Government of Sudan to assume its security responsibility and the general level of compliance with the Ceasefire Agreement have not been borne out” (paragraph 105); and since his last report, “the situation in Darfur has not witnessed any marked improvement” (paragraph 117).

Recent AMIS experience has shown that displaced women welcome AMIS’ patrols in the areas where the women are gathering firewood, and that the rate of attacks on them has decreased as a result. Due to the current AMIS forces being “too thin on the ground” (paragraph 108), however, this useful patrolling was not undertaken until recently, and cannot be carried out in more than a few places. Much more of this proactive type of operation is needed.

Human Rights Watch urges members of the Peace and Security Council to expedite the third phase of AMIS and to promptly urge all members of the African Union to contribute the additional 10,000 troops and civilian police required for this third phase. Should African Union member states not be able to second troops in a timely fashion, the Peace and Security Council should be prepared to seek and accept those forces from elsewhere as well as the necessary logistical and technical support.

Increased deployment of civilian police is also critical to the success of AMIS and to the efforts to protect civilians, particularly those who are displaced into camps and towns in Darfur. We call on the African Union to take immediate steps to form a joint policing operation with the United Nations or other regional institutions to supplement the scarce African Union civilian police force.

With regard to Security Council Resolution 1593 referring the case of Darfur to the International Criminal Court, the Chairperson’s report stated that he, in consultation with the Chairman of the African Union, was “considering options for extending African Union’s assistance in support to the efforts at addressing impunity and reconciliation,” (paragraph 87). We call on you to amend the mandate of AMIS to include cooperation with efforts to ensure that those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law are brought to justice. We also call on Peace and Security Council members to urge the Sudanese and Chadian governments to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court investigation on Darfur.

Human Rights Watch commends and thanks the Peace and Security Council of the African Union for the measures taken so far to alleviate the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur. As a result of your willingness and ability, with enough forces, to protect civilians in Darfur, it is essential that you consider and urgently undertake the above recommendations.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Takirambudde
Executive Director, Africa Division
Human Rights Watch

H.E. Alpha Konare, Chair, African Union Commission
Mr. Said Djinnit, Chair, African Union Peace and Security Council
Mr. Sam Ibok, Director, Peace and Security Directorate
Mr. El Ghassim Wane, Head, AU Conflict Management Center
Ambassador Ki Doulaye Corentim, Head, Darfur Integrated Task Force

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