(Brussels)- European Union leaders should support tough new action against top Sudanese leaders for their failure to end abuses in Darfur, the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch said today in advance of the EU summit on 14-15 December.
“Millions of civilians are paying the price for nearly four years of unkept promises and empty commitments,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “With Khartoum having long learned that the global response is all bark and no bite, the situation is again predictably deteriorating – and spreading across neighboring borders.”
The two global advocacy groups, who were among the first to alert the world to the unfolding catastrophe in Darfur, called for the imposition of strong new economic, legal and military measures if President Omar El Bashir did not act immediately, and once and for all, to stop all attacks on civilians, accept in entirety the proposed new African Union-UN peacekeeping force, and cooperate fully in new political settlement efforts.
“Bashir has just been laughing at the ‘do this or else’ resolutions passed by the UN Security Council so far,” said Gareth Evans, president of the International Crisis Group. “It’s time for the screws to be tightened on Khartoum, to change his cost-benefit calculations.”
The two groups called on the EU Summit to support UN Security Council action (and failing that, for EU member states themselves to act where possible) to put economic pressure on the Khartoum regime by:
- extending targeted individual sanctions (primarily travel bans and asset freezes) to all 50 or more individuals named in the UN’s Commission of Inquiry and Panel of Experts reports;
- specifically targeting revenue flows from the petroleum sector (with the possible establishment of a UN-administered international compensation fund for Darfur’s victims from that revenue, excluding the proportion committed to the Government of South Sudan under the north-south peace agreement);
- targeting foreign investment in, and the supply of goods and services to, the petroleum and associated sectors; and
- identifying and targeting offshore assets of businesses affiliated with the National Congress Party (government majority party), a main conduit for financing militias.
They called on the International Criminal Court to pursue and extend its present investigations into crimes against humanity already committed, and to threaten robust action against any future atrocity crimes, to maintain legal pressure on the Khartoum regime.
As to military measures, they called on the Security Council to back its 2005 demand that the Sudanese government cease ‘offensive military flights’ over Darfur with the immediate establishment of a No Fly Zone – supported by France and Germany in particular – if aerial attacks on civilians again intensify.
International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch also called on the Security Council, with European support, to move quickly to establish a new UN peacekeeping mission in Chad and the Central African Republic, aimed at deterring the movement of insurgent armed groups across the border, and with a strong civilian protection mandate.
Since the Government of Sudan began its extreme overreaction to the challenge to its authority launched by Darfur rebel groups in 2003, more than 200,000 have died violently or from war-caused disease and starvation, more than 2 million remain displaced and homeless with another 2 million dependent on international assistance. Countless numbers of women have been raped, and adults and children grievously injured. The government-supported “Janjaweed” militias, responsible for most of the atrocity crimes, have been neither disarmed nor controlled. The overall situation is now again getting worse, with clashes between government and rebel groups escalating. One million of those in need are now out of reach of the humanitarian agencies.
The violence and misery has already crossed the border into Chad (where more than 200,000 Darfur refugees are housed in camps) and threatens to engulf Central African Republic as well. Within Chad, at least 90,000 Chadian civilians have been displaced by violent attacks from Sudanese and Chadian militias in 2006, and the pattern of chaos, lawlessness and attacks against civilians is increasingly spilling across the border. A longstanding internal conflict in the Central African Republic has also become increasingly intertwined with the Darfur crisis, with the Union des Forces Republicaines (UFR) rebel group in the northeast reportedly receiving support from Khartoum.