SUDAN WATCH: UN passes Resolution 1591 on Sudan - Sudan vows to put 164 on trial for Darfur atrocities

Thursday, March 31, 2005

UN passes Resolution 1591 on Sudan - Sudan vows to put 164 on trial for Darfur atrocities

Yesterday, the UN Security Council decided to freeze assets and impose a travel ban on those believed to have committed human-rights abuses, or violated the ceasefire agreement in Darfur.

Excerpt from UN News via IRIN March 30, 2005:

Tuesday's resolution also extended the current ban on the sale or supply of military equipment to non-governmental entities or individuals involved in the Darfur conflict to include the Sudanese government. It further demanded that the government immediately cease conducting offensive military flights in the region.

Security Council had adopted an "unwise resolution" says Khartoum

The Sudan's UN Ambassador, Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa, said the Council had adopted an "unwise resolution" that might aggravate the situation in Darfur.

A UN committee, consisting of all Council members, was established to specify which individuals would be subject to the restrictive measures, and to monitor their implementation.

In addition, the resolution requested UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to appoint a four-member panel of experts based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to assist the committee for six months.

Once again, the Council condemned the failure of the Sudanese government to disarm Janjaweed militias and bring to justice their leaders and associates who had carried out human-rights violations and other atrocities.

Unless the Council determines that the parties in the conflict have complied with certain demands and commitments, the measures set out in the text will be enforced 30 days from the adoption date.

These commitments were set out in previous Council resolutions in 2004: the April N'djamena Ceasefire Agreement and the November Abuja Humanitarian and Security Protocols, signed by the Sudanese government and the two main rebel groups - the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), and the Justice and Equality Movement.

The Council emphasised that there could be no military solution to the conflict in Darfur, and urged the government and the rebels to resume the Abuja talks without preconditions, and to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement quickly.
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US agrees to use UN Court for Darfur Cases

Today, in New York, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution put forward by France that would authorise the prosecution of Sudanese war crimes suspects by the international criminal court (ICC). But there may be further delay.

This morning, Fox 23 News was the first to break with the news - followed by Associated Press via LA Times - that Washington approves Sudan trials by International Criminal Court, and in return, Americans are exempt from any prosecution.

But the latest this evening from Reuters says France is still engaged in last minute talks with the United States to avoid a US veto. "We are trying to find language that we would find acceptable. We're trying to make the resolution work so that we can avoid a train wreck," said one US official.

See here below an East African news report that explains Kenya signed US immunity yesterday. Perhaps other signatures have been garnered to provide the US with more assurances that its citizens won't get hauled up in front of the ICC on frivolus charges.
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UN Security Council passes Resolution 1591 on Sudan

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council approved what The Economist terms as "mild sanctions" against those carrying out "ethnic cleansing" in Darfur.

The council voted to impose a no fly zone over Darfur; a travel ban and an asset freeze on those responsible for atrocities in Darfur and on individuals who impede the peace process or commit human rights violations in Darfur. The council also voted to strengthen an arms embargo in Darfur that encompasses the Sudanese government.

Last week, the Security Council passed another resolution to deploy nearly 11,000 UN peacekeepers to South Sudan to monitor a peace deal between the Government of Sudan and southern rebels that ended a 21-year civil war.

Sudan Tribune has published the full text of UN Security Council resolution 1591 on Sudan, along with a copy of "Explanations after Vote".
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Kenya to sign US immunity agreement

Copy of an East African news report by Evelyn Kwamboka re the UN's ICC and Kenya's signing of a US immunity agreement:

The Government is today expected to sign an agreement offering the US bilateral immunity in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

But 12 human rights groups yesterday opposed the move, saying it would make Kenya to not only violate international law but also facilitate the protection of foreign criminals.

If it signs the agreement, Kenya will not surrender any US citizen to the ICC, however serious the crime committed.

The move comes barely a month after Kenya joined ICC, which aims at ending war crimes.

On March 9, Attorney-General Amos Wako gave UN officials in New York a document containing the statutes signed by the Foreign Affairs minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere.

Yesterday, the International Commission for Jurists (ICJ) Kenya Executive Director Philip Kichana urged Parliament's Legal Affairs and Administration of Justice Committee to discuss the issue before the agreement is signed.

"They should bear in mind the national interest despite the huge sums of money that may be offered by US in terms of aid," he said.

The ICJ, the Law Society of Kenya, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the East African Human Rights Institute, Release Political Prisoners and the Legal Resources Foundation signed yesterday's statement.

The US refused to sign the ICC treaty in 2002, saying it feared its soldiers and officials could be targeted by "frivolous" lawsuits.

A UN-appointed commission has recommended that ICC tries those accused of abuses in Sudan's Darfur region but Washington opposes the move, fearing it would legitimise the court.
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Khartoum slams UN sanctions - rebels demand more

The regime in Khartoum says the new UN resolution unfairly puts the government's rights and duties on an equal footing with the rebellion.

Copy of report from Aljazeera March 30, 2005:

The Sudanese government reacted with anger to the UN's Security Council sanctions over violations in Darfur. But in direct contrast the rebels argued the move was too timid to yield a breakthrough in the conflict.

The Sudanese foreign ministry issued a statement which called the U.S. sponsored resolution as "unbalanced and inappropriate" and "ignored the government's efforts in addressing the political, security and humanitarian aspects of the Darfur conflict."

The Sudanese government hinted in its statement that it would not consider itself bound by the resolution.

"The government will also seek to lift any sanctions that the UN will impose based on false information," it said. "The resolution unfairly puts the government's rights and duties on an equal footing with the rebellion."

The main rebel group in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement, said it was disappointed by the scope of the sanctions, arguing they would do little to encourage resolve.

"We support the resolution, although we do not feel that it is strong enough," SLM spokesman Mahjub Hussein said.

The group said it would have preferred a resolution strengthening an arms embargo against Sudan, imposing restrictions on the movement of government officials and the freezing of their assets.

Furthermore, the SLM believes the resolution would have carried more weight if it had obliged the pulling out of armed forces from Darfur and the handing of security responsibilities in the region to an international force.

Under the resolution, backed 12-0 with abstentions from Algeria, China and Russia, any movement of military equipment and supplies into the Darfur region will require the prior approval of the Security Council.
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Sudan says UN sanctions bad for Darfur security

Sudan said on Wednesday a U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on those responsible for violence in Darfur would make it harder to disarm combatants and would endanger lives in the remote region.

Excerpt from Reuters report March 30, 2005:

"We think the resolution is unbalanced and unfortunate," Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told reporters in Khartoum in reference to a Security Council resolution passed on Tuesday that imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on some involved in the Darfur conflict.

"It will reflect negatively on the security in Darfur because it will jeopardise and limit the capability of the government to fight outlaws."

He said the resolution, which also strengthens an arms embargo on the government and prevents hostile flights over Darfur, would put the lives of the Darfuri people at risk as well as the thousands of foreigners working in the region.

"It will also reflect negatively on the security of non-Sudanese who are supposed to move freely and to feel in full security," he said.

There are around 1,000 foreign aid workers in Darfur and more than 2,000 African Union (AU) troops in Darfur.

Three members of an AU team were injured in an attack on Tuesday, and last week a U.S. aid worker was shot in the face when gunmen ambushed an aid convoy in Darfur.

The United Nations says the government has done little to try to disarm Arab militias, but Ismail said the rebels had caused delay through intransigence and said the government needed more time.

"We are doing our best but this is an area larger than France. Weapons are everywhere. Rebels are not cooperating," he said. "We need time in order to deal with this."

Darfur rebel

Picture: A Darfur rebel. The main Darfur rebel group, SLM, believes the new UN resolution would have carried more weight if it had obliged the pulling out of armed forces from Darfur and the handing of security responsibilities in the region to an international force. [Perhaps that's on the table for when UN peacekeepers start assisting the African Union troops in Darfur]

The Sudanese government hinted in its statement that it would not consider itself bound by the resolution and said "the resolution unfairly puts the government's rights and duties on an equal footing with the rebellion."

Further reading:

Mar 30 Xinhua China news: UN official denies Resolution 1591 against Khartoum. A UN official said in Khartoum Wednesday that a recent UN Security Council resolution is aimed to press the conflicting sides.

Mar 31 The Daily Star Lebanon: Khartoum rejects 'unbalanced' UN resolution.
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Sudan vows to put 164 on trial for Darfur atrocities

Sudan has for the first time arrested military and security officials accused of raping and killing civilians and burning villages in Darfur.

Excerpt from the Scotsman March 30, 2005:
Khartoum repeated its insistence yesterday that none of its citizens would be tried outside its borders, in direct defiance of a call by the UN earlier this year for 51 Sudanese - including some high-ranking government officials - to be tried by the international community.

The foreign minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, reiterated on state television yesterday: "We will never hand over any Sudanese national - whether he is an outlaw, an army officer, or a government official - for trial outside Sudan."
Here is a report by Ophera McDoom in Khartoum via the Scotsman Mar 29:
Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin said a government committee had arrested 15 members of the police, military and security forces in Darfur for human rights abuses and they would immediately be sent to court.

"They are military people ... from army, military and security," Mr Yassin said, adding all the accused were from these "disciplinary forces".

"[They are accused of] different crimes. It includes rape, killing, burning and other things - different kinds of atrocities," he said.

The UN Security Council is expected to vote tomorrow on a French-drafted resolution which would send those responsible for war crimes in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Sudan rejects referring any of its nationals to a court outside its borders, saying its judicial system is able to prosecute those guilty of crimes.

"Now it is high time for us to prove ourselves and to prove how genuine we are and how seriously the Sudanese judiciary can do the job," Mr Yassin said.

"This is a start; it is not the end of it - they are progressing and doing a good job."

Mr Yassin said 14 members of the police, the army and security forces were under arrest in West Darfur state and one in North Darfur state.

Darfur on Fire

Photo: "Darfur on Fire" - A Sudanese rebel watches as a village attacked by the Janjaweed militia burns. [Scott Nelson/Getty Images Tue 29 Mar 2005 courtesy Scotsman.com]

Another report in the Scotsman March 28, says with only hours to the UN Security Council vote on where to try Darfur's war criminals, the Khartoum regime says it has arrested 15 men who are accused of murder and burning villages in Darfur. The report says if past examples of Khartoum’s "justice" are anything to go by, these men - guilty or not - will be tried and executed very quickly, thus evading UN involvement.

But few news reports educate readers as to the predicament Khartoum is in over the Janjaweed. And why the UN's demands to reign in the Janjaweed were always an impossibility. Sometime last year, even Khartoum revealed in the press it fears retribution once the West got bored and turned its back, so we can't be surprised at their efforts to avoid arresting the people who are protecting them. Without the Janjaweed and Arab tribal leaders, the Khartoum regime would fall. Who else do they have on their side to squash the rebellions in the south, west and east of Sudan?

Even the rebels themselves have said their objective is to overthrow the government. Unless all sides cease fighting [which they have proved they are capable of] and work out a political situation, the conflict seems likely to go on for years. Even if the regime in Khartoum fled tomorrow, who would lead the people of northern Sudan - the one's that fought against southern Sudan's rebels for 21 terrifying years? John Garang, the leader of the southern rebels, couldn't unite them, there is too much mistrust.

Surely Khartoum can see the writing on the wall. Charismatic leadership is needed to unite the whole of Sudan. The world saw how the people in South Sudan rejoiced in the streets at the prospect of peace. If only someone within the African Union or Arab League could get all of the gangs and tribal leaders together. Maybe the Libyan leader has been trying to do something along these lines. Where are the Islamic clerics in all of this? What do ordinary Sudanese folk say? Who would the Sudanese support as a leader for a united Sudan? The media and politicians never properly explain what is really going on.

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