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UN: Rights Council Should Set Benchmarks for Sudan

Darfur Experts’ Report Is Basis for Assessing Progress

The United Nations Human Rights Council should hold Sudan to its commitments on Darfur by monitoring its implementation of 10 concrete steps, Human Rights Watch said in a paper released today. A group of experts on Darfur, appointed by the council, presented its interim report to the council on September 24, 2007.

The experts’ group noted that while some of the recommendations it had previously presented to the council had been partially implemented by Khartoum, other recommendations had not. As a result, the experts’ group, which in December will present its final report on the situation in Darfur, concluded that it was “not in a position to report that a clear impact on the ground has been identified.”

“The Human Rights Council should insist that Sudan’s actions match its words on Darfur,” said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Rather than just making promises, Sudan should take steps that result in real changes on the ground.”

In the briefing paper, “Ten Steps for Darfur,” Human Rights Watch outlines actions drawn from the recommendations compiled by the group of experts that would contribute to improving the human rights situation in Darfur. The Sudanese government has, as described in the paper, already agreed to undertake many of the steps, but has yet to act. The Human Rights Council should call on Sudan to take these 10 concrete steps, and should indicate its intention to evaluate Sudan’s implementation of these measures when the group of experts reports in December.

The 10 steps are:

  1. Publish and disseminate orders prohibiting the targeting of civilians and civilian property and indiscriminate attacks;
  2. Enforce orders prohibiting the targeting of civilians and civilian property and indiscriminate attacks;
  3. Vet all appointments to public office on human rights grounds, and remove Ahmed Haroun, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court, from all posts;
  4. Publicize and enforce a policy of zero tolerance for violence against women;
  5. Provide an up-to-date list of detainees and where they are held, and ensure that humanitarian agencies have confidential access to all detainees;
  6. Cease any use in Darfur of military airplanes, helicopters or vehicles painted white or otherwise mimicking UN or humanitarian organizations;
  7. Issue a blanket waiver of legal immunities for war crimes and serious violations of human rights;
  8. Fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and surrender two suspects now subject to arrest warrants;
  9. Fully cooperate with the African Union mission and the deployment of the new UN-AU force, including issuance of expedited visas and clearance for vehicles and equipment; and,
  10. Issue a standing invitation to all UN human rights mechanisms and give these mechanisms full and unimpeded access.

Each of these steps can and should be accomplished before the council’s December session. Together, the steps can be used to assess the extent of Sudan’s commitment to addressing the human rights crisis in Darfur.

“The Human Rights Council should make clear that it can tell whether Sudan is taking concrete steps to improve the situation in Darfur or not,” Hicks said. “The council needs to hold Sudan accountable if it fails to honor its commitments.”

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