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UN: Make Civilian Protection a Priority on Trip to Africa

Security Council Must Increase Pressure on Sudan

(New York) - The United Nations Security Council must make protection of civilians its highest priority, Human Rights Watch said today. In a letter to the Security Council, Human Rights Watch called for greater pressure on the Sudanese government to ensure the immediate deployment of the full African Union-United Nations hybrid force in Darfur to help protect civilians, and also to end the government's abusive policies. 
 
[Human Rights Watch's letter was sent to the Security Council before the announcement on June 12 of Khartoum's agreement to the hybrid force. But the message contained in the letter remains relevant, in the context of Khartoum's constant pattern of delay and broken promises in the past. It is essential that the Security Council ensures that the Sudanese government's commitment to the "expeditious" deployment of the full AU-UN force is matched by its immediate action.]  
 
The letter comes in advance of a week-long trip by members of the Security Council to Africa, including Sudan, which begins on June 14, 2007. Human Rights Watch urged the Security Council to press for Sudan's cooperation with the International Criminal Court, and to impose effectively enforced sanctions against Sudanese leaders responsible for atrocities in Darfur. Human Rights Watch has also urged the possible creation of a mandatory Darfur Recovery Fund, into which revenues from Sudanese oil exports would be paid to help victims and to put pressure on Khartoum to ensure the urgent deployment of the African Union-United Nations force.  
 
"The Sudanese government is still getting away with murder in Darfur," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The Security Council needs to tell Khartoum to stop using delaying tactics and start protecting its people."  
 
The Security Council will also be visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d'Ivoire. Human Rights Watch called for all those responsible for serious human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo to be held to account.  
 
"There should be a vetting process before fighters are integrated into the army," said Takirambudde. "No one accused of serious crimes should be allowed to join Congo's armed forces until the allegations have been investigated."  
 
In Cote d'Ivoire, too, Human Rights Watch called for an end to the era of impunity, and for a strong UN peacekeeping force to remain in place. It called for the immediate publication of a report on human rights violations in the country submitted to the Security Council by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in December 2004, which remains unpublished.  
 
The Security Council will also be visiting Addis Ababa, where the African Union (AU) has its headquarters, and Ghana, which holds the presidency of the African Union. In connection with the AU talks, Human Rights Watch made key recommendations to address the human rights crises in Chad, Somalia, and northern Uganda. In each of these countries, the protection of civilians remains crucial, as does the necessity of ensuring accountability for those who commit abuses.  
 
On Chad, Human Rights Watch called for the Security Council to take all necessary measures to ensure the deployment of a robust international presence of military personnel and human rights monitors along the Chad/Sudan border. The force should be equipped with a mandate and sufficient resources to protect civilians, secure humanitarian access, patrol the border, and support efforts to ensure accountability for human rights violations.  
 
On Somalia, the letter called for a stronger element of civilian protection in the African peacekeepers' mandate - and any follow up UN force - and for all parties to the conflict, including the Ethiopian military and the allied forces of the Transitional Federal Government to be held accountable for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.  
 
On northern Uganda, in connection with ongoing peace talks in Juba, Human Rights Watch insisted that justice is a necessary ingredient for a durable peace.  

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