Leadership Council for Human Rights

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Situation in Sudan

March 29, 2006

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom held a press conference highlighting the main conclusions drawn on the situation in Sudan. Several prominent members of Congress attended the conference: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Frank Wolf, and Rep. Donald Payne. All of the members of Congress present called for a stronger bipartisan approach to resolving the issues in Sudan, and they stated their belief that a Special Envoy ought to be appointed for the country. Representative Wolf called for a passionate approach and an end to the analytical approach that Washington, and the rest of the international community, has employed until now. Each Representative showed strong support for the USCIRF and the work they have done about the violence and religious intolerance currently occurring in several regions of Sudan. Also present at the briefing were representatives from the Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group discussing their respective findings about the situation in Sudan.

The Chair of the USCIRF spoke at length on the conclusions drawn by their report being released today, and the situation as it now stands, and how it might look in the future. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in January of 2005, and the members of the commission visited in January of this year. According to their report there has been some progress, such as a fragile, but existent peace that has curbed the North-South civil war, and a unity government has taken control in Khartoum. They however note that these are small steps when many serious problems still exist. They cite significant delays in implementing major parts of the CPA, a lack of the sharing of oil wealth, limited to no protection of human rights, and an ongoing genocide in the western Darfur region. Also at issue is the treatment of other religions in Sudan, such that Christians are still subject to Shar’ia law and Muslims may not convert to another religion. There is some discrepancy about the permission to build churches not being given. In light of these problems, the Commission has drawn the following conclusions and policy steps for the U.S. Government:

1. Appointment of a “Special Representative” (Special Envoy) to the Sudan.

2. Increase our support and leadership in implementing the provisions of the CPA.

3. Maintain sanctions without hurting the South or programs aimed at implementing the CPA

4. Increase foreign assistance and promote more cultural and educational exchanges.

5. Help return those internally and externally displaced by conflict in Sudan

6. Maintain discussions with Sudanese officials on many different issues.

7. Have a United Nations’ Peacekeeping force deployed to relieve the African Union troops.

To learn more about Sudan and the USCIRF, click here.

Information from the Human Rights Watch can be found here.

To find out more from the International Crisis Group, click here.


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