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Resolution by Human Rights NGOs on the Situation in Darfur

The Forum on the participation of NGOs in the 36 th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights:

Considering the provisions of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the Charter of the United Nations Organisation as well as those of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other regional and international human rights instruments to which the Sudan is a state party and that Sudan is morally and legally bound to fully and effectively implement the provisions of these instruments and respect and promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms set therein without discrimination on any ground;

Deeply concerned at the grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Darfur region of western Sudan, in particular, reports of systematic attacks on civilians, targeting of villages and centres for internally displaced persons and of civilians by the Janjaweed militia; the removal by force of, inter alia, Fur, Zaggawa and Massaleet communities from their villages; the forced relocation of IDPs to insecure areas and the lack of adequate protection of and assistance to civilians by the government of Sudan and the widespread recourse to rape and other forms of sexual violence, including against children, as a means of warfare in violation of both human rights law and international humanitarian law;

Welcoming the signing of the two Protocols on the Improvement of the Humanitarian Situation in Darfur and on the Enhancement of the Security Situation in Darfur which were agreed upon by the government of Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Abuja Nigeria, on 9 th November 2004 with the mediation efforts of the African Union (AU) and the international facilitators.

Encouraged that the Protocols called for a halt of all hostilities and military actions, reconnaissance operations including hostile military flights over Darfur as well as neutralising and disarming the Janjaweed and other militias controlled by the government and that the parties also agreed to allow unrestricted access to the region by humanitarian relief organisations and agencies, take steps required to prevent all attacks, threats, intimidation and any other form of violence against civilians by any party or group, including the Janjaweed and other militias and to guarantee the safe return of IDPs and refugees to their areas of origin.

Welcoming the appointment by the UN Secretary General of an International Commission of Inquiry to “ … investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur by all parties, to determine also whether or not acts of genocide have occurred, and to identify the perpetrators of such violations with a view to ensuring that those responsible are held accountable …”

Fully supporting the establishment of the International Commission of Inquiry as a step in the right direction towards ending the impunity with which massive and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law are being committed in Darfur and that the Commission could will play an important role in ending the suffering of the people of Darfur and eventually in restoring peace and security in this troubled region of the world.

We call on the African Commission to undertake further appropriate measures within the parameters of its mandate to seek to ensure that the government of Sudan complies with its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant instruments, and in particular to:

  1. Fully and unconditionally respect its obligations under the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the Charter of the United Nations Organisation as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and all other regional and international human rights treaties to which the Sudan is a state party.
  2. Stop, with immediate effect, all attacks against civilians in Darfur and end the grave violations of human and peoples’ rights in particular the forced de-population of entire areas in the region, and to cease all support, including the provision of supplies, to the Janjaweed militia, further aggravating the most precarious situation of the internally displaced persons in the region.
  3. Provide the necessary support to all international agencies and humanitarian organisations in order to ensure immediate, full, safe and unhindered access to the affected people in Darfur in order to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance to these people.
Call on the AU and the International Community to
  1. strongly support and assist the International Commission of Enquiry in its work and urge all parties to the conflict in Darfur in particular the government of Sudan to cooperate fully and unconditionally with the Commission’s task of identifying precisely what crimes have been committed in the Darfur region, as well as the perpetrators of these crimes, their commanders and their accomplices with a view to bringing them to justice and repair the damage done to the victims. The political process must not be a substitute for holding all relevant parties accountable for the serious human rights violations which have been committed in Darfur. We also note that there have been violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by the SLM/A and JEM rebel groups, including attacks on, and abduction of civilians, and the laying of landmines. Finally, in Darfur and Sudan, prosecutions of those currently accused of violations pending before the courts must be processed vigorously.
  2. Take measures to ensure that parties to the conflict respect the agreed upon November Protocols in letter and spirit and to send a clear message to the conflicting parties on the world’s resolve to end this crisis, and adopt effective punitive measures against the defaulting party. In order to ensure effective monitoring of the ceasefire agreement by the AU, parties must also be encouraged to comply with the requirements of the ceasefire including provision of information on troop movements. Member states must ensure that sufficient resources, financial, logistics and personnel are provided for the appropriate fulfilment of the mandate.
  3. Consider an expansion of the AU police and military deployment to at least 30,000 personnel and the extension of the mission mandate to include a clear and specific obligation to ensure the protection of civilians. The army and police forces of the government of Sudan have been implicated in direct attacks on civilians, resulting in a complete breakdown of the confidence of the local community in the will and ability of the Government of Sudan to provide appropriate protection. Once again we call on the international community to support the AU in its efforts to help end the crisis in Darfur including by providing all equipment, logistical, financial, material, and other resources necessary to support the rapid expansion of the AU Mission in the region. Further, if the Government of Sudan continues to be unable or unwilling to disarm and demobilize the Janjaweed militia, as has been demanded by the UN Security Council in Resolution 1564, the AU should be specifically mandated with this task.
  4. Assist in creating the conditions of security which will permit civilians to return safely to their homes of origin, when they voluntarily so decide. Displacement of civilians from their homes and destruction of villages has been a deliberate hallmark of the violence. In this regard, measures ostensibly taken to provide protection and assistance to the displaced including through the creation of “safe designated areas” must not contribute to the prolongation of displacement or be a cover for the permanent resettlement of the displaced outside their areas of origin. Occupation of settlements from which the displaced have been forcibly removed must not be permitted.
  5. Call for the aboltion of the specialized criminal courts. although some recent changes to the procedures and practices of the system of special courts within Darfur has resulted in small improvements, including the extension of appeal time limits and permission to retain counsel, the standards and procedures applied fall way below those required by both Sudanese and international law. Further, there is strong evidence that criminal law is being applied in a discriminatory manner, particular in terms of disproportionate use of penalties in Darfur, such as amputations, which are contrary to international law.
  6. Further to the recent ceasefire and humanitarian agreements, pressure must be brought to bear on all parties to generate the political will to reach a political solution to the crisis. The people of Darfur face a huge task of restoring confidence, creating reconciliation and rebuilding the social fabric in their communities. We call on governments and civil society in AU member States to assist the people of Darfur in this task.
Done at Dakar, Senegal, on 22nd November 2004


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