(New York) - The UN Security Council should strongly denounce the Sudanese government's recent bombardment of civilian villages in West Darfur and impose targeted sanctions on those responsible, Human Rights Watch said in a letter today.
Human Rights Watch warned that the Council's inaction has given Sudan a green light to continue attacking civilian targets, flouting international law and Security Council resolutions.
"The Sudanese government's recent attacks take us back to the very darkest days of the conflict," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The Security Council shouldn't stand by as though this is ‘business as usual.'"
Since February 8, 2008, Sudanese government troops and "Janjaweed" militia backed by Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships have carried out a series of attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the ongoing bombardments, which are also preventing life-saving humanitarian assistance from reaching some of the worst-affected areas.
The attacks are only the latest manifestation of Sudan's disregard for Security Council resolutions and its obligations under international law, none of which have provoked a strong response from the Security Council. These include Sudan's repeated flouting of the UN arms embargo, failure to implement UN sanctions, and obstruction of the UN-mandated peacekeeping force.
"These horrific attacks on civilians show Khartoum's confidence that there will be no real consequences for its actions," Gagnon said. "It's time for the Security Council to prove them wrong."
Human Rights Watch called on the Security Council to issue a presidential statement condemning Sudan's violations of international humanitarian law in West Darfur, the appointment of Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal as a ‘presidential advisor,' and its refusal to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. The Council should also order the UN Panel of Experts to immediately investigate the attacks in West Darfur, and should impose targeted sanctions on those responsible.