For Immediate Release: January 23, 2009
New York, NY – Human Rights First strongly condemns the ongoing fighting by rebel factions around the town of Muhajariya in South Darfur and the Sudanese air force’s bombing raids in the area last week.
“The current outbreak of violence in South Darfur demonstrates the failure of the Government of Sudan and rebel movements to respect their obligations under previous ceasefire agreements and existing Security Council resolutions. The Security Council must respond strongly to this violence,” said Julia Fromholz, Interim Director of HRF’s Crimes Against Humanity program. “The Darfur arms embargo provides the Council with a range of options for punitive measures on all parties to the conflict. For example, the Council could expand the embargo to cover all of Sudan as well as Chad and northern parts of the Central African Republic, thus cutting off the arms supplies that fuel the fighting.”
HRF also urges the Security Council to enforce the existing embargo by imposing significant penalties, including travel bans and asset freezes, on individuals from both sides of the conflict who have violated it. The Council should place similar sanctions on individuals who impede the peace process and commit violations of international law.
To curb the Government of Sudan’s capacity to continue bombing in civilian areas, the Council should prohibit the transfer of fighter aircraft, such as those used in this week’s attack, into Darfur. And to reduce the flow of arms into the region, it should place an aviation ban on cargo companies that transport weapons, and should ensure that UNAMID is immediately equipped with an arms embargo-monitoring cell.
Additionally, last week’s bombings come just weeks before the International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected to issue an arrest warrant for President Bashir, proving yet again that the government of Sudan’s rhetoric of peace in Darfur is not borne out by its actions.
The ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber is expected to decide in the coming weeks on the Prosecutors request for an arrest warrant for President Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Since the submission of the Prosecutor’s request in July 2008, Sudan has engaged in a campaign to persuade the world that it is committed to peace and that the Security Council should use its authority under the ICC’s founding statute to suspend the investigation. Last week’s attacks demonstrate the shallowness of Sudan’s commitment to peace, and Human Rights First strongly urges all Security Council member states to unite in opposing efforts to suspend the case.
The United States government should use its voice and vote at the Security Council to push for enforcement and expansion of the Darfur arms embargo, and to resist attempts to obstruct the ICC investigation.