Category Archives: North Africa

UN says forces in Sudan’s Darfur won’t leave amid rising violence

Reuters

DAKAR Reuters) – A joint United Nations-African Union (UNAMID) peacekeeping mission in Darfur is unlikely to bow to Sudan’s request to leave the region when the situation there appears to be worsening, the head of the U.N. peacekeeping forces said on Monday.

Sudan said last month it had asked UNAMID to prepare an exit plan, days after denying peacekeepers permission to pay a second visit to the site of alleged mass rapes by Sudanese soldiers in the Darfur village of Tabit.

“They have asked us to form an exit strategy, which was always an objective, but they are doing it with a certain insistence and publicity which is a little bit special,” Herve Ladsous told Reuters in an interview.

The Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 when mainly African tribes in the region took up arms against the Arab-led government in Khartoum, accusing it of discriminating against them. UNAMID has been deployed in Darfur since 2007.

As many as 300,000 people have died in the conflict, the United Nations says.

Ladsous said a review of UNAMID had been completed and that he would consult with his African Union counterpart, but added Khartoum knew the mission would not leave any time soon.

“It won’t happen tomorrow and not while we continue to see so much suffering,” he said. “This year alone we’ve seen a further 430,000 displaced, which is a clear indication that the situation in Darfur is not good.”

UNAMID was deployed in Darfur with a mandate to stem violence against civilians in a conflict that has seen the International Criminal Court (ICC) issue a warrant for the arrest of President Omar al-Bashir for suspected genocide.

Khartoum has dismissed the charges and refused to recognise the ICC. Bashir claimed victory on Saturday over the ICC and reaffirmed his hard line on Darfur after prosecutors shelved further investigation of war crimes there.

“What we’re seeing is fighting between unidentified militias and people are being killed, women are being raped,” Ladsous said. “There was this incident in Tabit where we were not able to investigate in an independent way without being watched.”

Sudan initially refused to let UNAMID visit Tabit but later granted it access. UNAMID found no evidence of allegations by some Darfur rebels that Sudanese troops had raped about 200 women and girls.

But it expressed concern on Nov. 10 about a heavy military presence during interviews conducted with the alleged victims.

 

Sudan’s Bashir claims victory as ICC drops Darfur investigation

BBC

Sudan President Bashir hails ‘victory’ over ICC charges

The Sudanese president has faced the threat of ICC prosecution since 2009

The president of Sudan has claimed victory over the International Criminal Court after it ended its probe into allegations of war crimes in Darfur.

The ICC charged Omar al-Bashir in 2009 for crimes in the region dating back to 2003, but he refused to recognise the authority of the court in The Hague.

He said the court had failed in its attempts to “humiliate” Sudan.

Announcing the suspension on Friday, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda blamed it on lack of action by the UN.

She called for a “dramatic shift” in the UN Security Council’s approach, saying inaction was emboldening the perpetrators of war crimes in Darfur to continue their brutality, particularly against women and girls.

Other Sudanese officials have also been charged by the ICC – but none have been arrested.

Darfur has been riven by conflict since rebels took up arms in 2003. The UN says more than 300,000 lives have been lost, mostly from disease.

The suspension of the Darfur investigation came just over a week after the ICC dropped charges against another head of state, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He faced prosecution over ethnic violence in 2007-08 in the aftermath of Kenya’s election. That was the court’s most high-profile case.

‘It surrendered
Mr Bashir said the Sudanese people had stood firm against “colonial courts”.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said perpetrators of brutality would only be emboldened

Rebels stand by as a Darfur village burns after allegedly being set alight by pro-government militia in September 2004 – one of many alleged crimes during the conflict
“Last night the ICC raised its arms and surrendered,” he said in remarks on Saturday.

“It is the people of Sudan who stood firm and said that no Sudanese official shall surrender to colonial courts at The Hague or anywhere else.”

Human Rights Watch said that Mr Bashir had got the wrong message from the decision to suspend the case.

“Rather than the prosecutor (Fatou Bensouda) holding up her hands in defeat, I think she threw the challenge down to the Security Council itself, that they, the Council, need to step up to the plate and assist her in the arrest and surrender of Omar al-Bashir and other accused, for fair trial at the ICC,” Human Rights Watch spokesman Richard Dicker told the BBC.

Last month, Sudan asked the UN-African Union force in Darfur (Unamid) to close its human rights office in the capital, Khartoum.

The move came amid tensions over the mission’s attempt to investigate claims of mass rape by Sudanese troops in the Darfur village of Tabit.

Sudan says it has carried out its own investigation and has found no proof that anyone was raped.

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Sudan threatens to pursue S Kordofan rebels into South Sudan

Sudan Tribune
December 12, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The director of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), Mohamed Atta, said they have endured the support of South Sudan to Sudanese rebels for a long-time and threatened to pursue them “anywhere”.

Sudan and South Sudan trade accusations of support to rebel groups from both sides although Khartoum and Juba signed agreements which state that each side must refrain from supporting rebels from the other country.

Atta, who addressed the pro-government militia Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Nyala on Friday, warned neighbouring countries particularly South Sudan of the consequences of harbouring Sudanese rebels, saying “the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF will pursue rebels everywhere.”

“Khartoum has endured the support rendered by South Sudan to rebels for long-time out of respect for the neighbourly ties and the peace agreement but it is high time to pursue rebels who attack our country everywhere,” he added.

Last November, South Sudanese authorities accused the Sudanese army of bombing Western Bahr el Ghazal’s Raja county. But the Sudan Armed Forces didn’t react to these claims.

Sources said SAF were targeting a camp of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in the area. Khartoum last April formally accused Juba of using the Darfurian rebel group to fight insurgents led by the former vice-president Riek Machar.

Officials in Juba also accuse Khartoum of backing the rebellion in the border states.

The defence minister, Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, for his part, said the preparations of SAF and the RSF send a serious message to rebels and their collaborators inside Sudan and abroad.

He renewed rejection to demands of those who he called “enemies of Sudan” to dissolve the army, police and security and to cancel Shari’a law, saying the army and the regular forces are capable of defending the country.

Hussein who addressed the 16th infantry division in South Darfur state added they are ready to sacrifice their souls for the sake of defending Shari’s law.

He underscored that time has come to crush rebellion “so that people could devote themselves for development and reconstruction”.

The defence minister further emphasised that the second phase of the Decisive Summer campaign will end rebellion in all battlefronts, reiterating that SAF will not abandon “an inch” of the country’s territory.

Hussein praised the effective role played by RSF alongside the SAF in the battlefields, stressing the SRF is a “red line that we wouldn’t tolerate any one to cross it”.

“Following this majestic scenery which pleases our friends and vexes our enemies, I shall report to the president of the republic the readiness of SAF and the other regular forces to eradicate rebellion and declare the beginning of the second phase of the Decisive Summer campaign”, he said.

This month, military clashes escalated between the army and Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan following the collapse of the 9th round of peace talks between the two sides in Addis Ababa.

SAF has been battling the rebel SPLM-N in South Kordofan since 2011 besides launching attacks in spaced intervals against several rebel groups in Darfur since 2003.

The head of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), Mohamed Atta Abbas Al-Moula (Photo: Reuters)

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Sudan – ICC’s Bensouda suspends Darfur investigation because of UN

BBC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor says she has suspended her investigation into war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region because of a lack of action by the UN.

Fatou Bensouda said there needed to be “a dramatic shift” in the UN Security Council’s approach.

The Hague-based court indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2009 for alleged war crimes.

But he remains at large and has refused to recognise the court’s authority.

Other Sudanese officials have been charged by the ICC, but none has been arrested.

Darfur has been in conflict since 2003 when rebels took up arms.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to appear before you and purport to be updating you when all I am doing is repeating the same things I have said over and over again,” Ms Bensouda told the Security Council.

“Given this council’s lack of foresight on what should happen in Darfur, I am left with no choice but to hibernate investigative activities in Darfur as I shift resources to other urgent cases.”

Analysts say action by the Security Council is unlikely because China – which wields a veto – has traditionally supported Sudan.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the conflict in Darfur
“We find ourselves in a stalemate that can only embolden perpetrators,” Ms Bensouda said.

“What is needed is a dramatic shift in this council’s approach to arresting Darfur suspects.”

Last month, Sudan asked the UN-African Union force in Darfur (Unamid) to close its human rights office in the capital, Khartoum.

The move came amid tensions over the mission’s attempt to investigate claims of mass rape by Sudanese troops in the Darfuri village of Tabit.

Ms Bensouda told the UN that the allegations should “shock this council into action”.

However, Sudan has said it carried out its own investigation and had found no proof that anyone was raped.

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Sudan – army to deployed across whole nation to eradicate insurgency

Sudan Tribune

December 7, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) spokesman Colonel al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad said they will deploy troops extensively across the country to enforce the state authority, stressing that they will continue their “Decisive Summer” campaign aimed at eradicating the insurgency.

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SAF soldiers and RSF militamen stand guard after recapturing the Daldako area, east of Kadogli May 20, 2014. (Photo Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

The government is fighting the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) rebels in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan state for nearly 3 years, and other armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

The recent rounds of negotiations in Addis Ababa between Khartoum and insurgents over the conflicts in Darfur. South Kordofan and Blue Nile have failed to reach any settlement.

Col. Sa’ad told Ashorooq TV that SPLM-N attempts in South Kordofan to attack the army have failed which confirms that rebellion in the process of collapse after successive defeats suffered during SAF operations.

This week SAF accused SPLM-N of launching attacks in Blinga and al-Atmoor villages in South Kordofan which follows another attack the day before near Alahimr area.

SPLM-N however claimed that SAF initiated the attacks.

The bulletin of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan (OCHA) reported that eight people were killed by aerial bombing and ground fighting between government forces and the SPLM-N in the period between November 17-23 in the provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

OCHA said it received reports of substantial increase in air strikes and ground fighting in parts of the Blue Nile State without figures on the rates of civilian displacement.

(ST)

Sudan’s war of starvation in the Nuba Mountains

Khartoum’s promised starvation campaign in the Nuba Mountains underway
Martinhttp://martinplaut.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/khartoums-promised-starvation-campaign-in-the-nuba-mountains-underway/ Plaut / 5 hours ago
This article by Eric Reeves explains the Sudanese government’s strategy in the current offensive in the Nuba Mountains.

Khartoum’s Promised Starvation Campaign in the Nuba Mountains Now Underway

Eric Reeves, 6 December 2014

Precisely two months ago I warned that the people of the Nuba Mountains (South Kordofan, Sudan) were
deeply endangered by plans disclosed in leaked minutes of an August 31
meeting that included the most senior military and security officials of
the Khartoum regime. I cited in particular two statements that were clearly
never meant to be seen or heard by a wider audience. General Siddiq Amer,
Director of Military Intelligence and Security, declared with remarkable
directness:

“This year the Sudan People’s Army [Sudan Peoples Liberation Army-North—ER]
managed to cultivate large areas in South Kordofan State. We must not allow
them to harvest these crops. *We should prevent them. Good harvest means
supplies to the war effort. We must starve them,* so that, commanders and
civilians desert them and we recruit the deserters to use them in the war
to defeat the rebels” (page 10 of English translation)

*”We must starve them.”*

He is speaking of hundreds of thousands of civilians, for of course this ruthless assessment neglects to point out
that the vast majority of agricultural production is a civilian
undertaking, and that it will be Nuba civilians—primarily children, women,
and the elderly—who will suffer most from this destruction of food
supplies, not the rebels. Even more blunt are the words of General
Imadal-Dindin Adawy, Chief of Joint Operations:

“We should attack them before the harvest and *bombard their food stores
and block them completely”* (page 14).

One might have thought that with their plans so widely disseminated in the
news, social media, and other sources, these *génocidaires* would alter or
delay their plans. Not so. Late November and December are the height of the
sorghum harvest season in the Nuba, and it is finally not surprising that
Khartoum should forge ahead with its plans of civilian destruction by means
of starvation. A report from a humanitarian organization with a tenuous
presence in parts of the Nuba reports confidentially about the last week of
November:

- during the week of 21-28 November six aerial raids by Antonov planes
dropped a total of 32 bombs in six different locations. The attacks
resulted in damage to farms and the immediate relocation of women and
children to forests and riversides in Blue Nile and to rocks and caves in
South Kordofan.

- [we have] been receiving reports of significant build-up of forces at
the front lines and drone overflights spotted, that in the past have
preceded aerial attacks on civilian locations. In addition, reports of
escalation of ground fighting have also been received. *[Drones have
been used to identify food storage sites as well as concentrations of
crops—ER]*

- *the Sudan Armed Forces has been deliberately burning large community
farms, estimated to be as much as 400-500 fedans of sorghum fields in
Dalami County. One fedan of cereal crops provides between 3-6 months of
staple grain for a family of six. Thus, 500 fedans equates to 1500 people
with no staple food for a year.*

It is early December: this is only the beginning of Khartoum’s assault on
the food supply of civilians in areas controlled by the Sudan Peoples
Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

Other recent research by the Enough Project offers equally grim data (from
“Extermination by Design: The Case for Crimes against Humanity in Sudan’s
Nuba Mountains,” The Enough Project | November 2014

To better understand the toll of the government-imposed humanitarian
blockade, in August 2014, a team of anonymous researchers conducted a
detailed assessment of the living conditions of the people in the parts of
South Kordofan controlled by the rebels. Their research found that
households are cultivating 10 percent less land this year than in the
previous year. The cumulative effect of three years of unrelenting war is
that, *alarmingly, cultivation has now dropped to one-fifth of pre-war
levels. As a consequence, 70 percent of displaced households are
consistently experiencing moderate or severe hunger.*

Other indicators are equally alarming.

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed in South Kordofan stated that
the children in their home were not attending school regularly.
Fifty-four percent claim that their primary [water] source dries up at
some point during the year.
Forty-seven percent have to walk more than five kilometers to reach a health facility.
Sixty-six percent of households stated that their child had malaria in the preceding four weeks.
Perhaps most striking, 70 percent of households stated that their primary barrier to food security was the insecurity caused by the violence.
Other sources confirm heavy fighting in the Dalami area in the northern
part of the Nuba Mountains, signaling the start of yet another ruthless dry
season defined by military violence. Such heavy fighting continues to
threaten not only crops yet to be harvested, but the food that has already
been harvested and thus concentrated in storage locations. These food
storage sites are the targets of Khartoum’s relentless aerial bombardment,
and were the most particular targets of ground assaults on Nuba villages in
the last fighting season (November – June 2013).

The scale and intensity of aerial assaults has been ferocious for almost
three and a half years (helicopter gunships were deployed by Khartoum
against fleeing Nuba civilians shortly after the regime initiated conflict
in South Kordofan on June 5, 2011). Nuba Reports recently noted (November 14
<http://nubareports.org/bombings-exceed-2000-as-peace-talks-begin/&gt;) that
Khartoum had “launched dozens of bombing raids on civilian areas in the
Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile in the last week”:

Nuba Reports has confirmed 36 bombs dropped in the last ten days in South
Kordofan. Two civilians were killed, and 12 wounded, including children.
Meanwhile in Blue Nile state, a barrage of bombings killed a mother, and
wounded three other civilians. *The latest assaults bring the total number
of bombs dropped on civilian targets to 2041.*

*What Khartoum’s Use of Military Assets Against Civilians Tells Us*

This savage use of aerial military assets against civilians has a long
history (I chronicle much of this in “They Bombed Everything that Moved:
Aerial military attacks on civilians and humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 –
2013,” <http://www.sudanbombing.org/&gt; which includes an extensive data
spreadsheet). It remains the case for the Nuba, as well as Blue Nile and
Darfur, that Khartoum’s aerial attacks on its own civilians is not
meaningfully challenged in any fashion by the international community,
creating a sense of complete impunity and ensuring that the attacks will
continue. We see this sense of impunity most conspicuously in the
deliberate aerial assaults on hospitals earlier this yeas. Last May and
June two different hospitals in two locations within the Nuba
Mountains—both known to be hospitals by the regime—were attacked.

The Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel (near Kauda) was attacked on May 1,
2014 by a Russian-built Sukhoi-24 military jet aircraft in a deliberate
effort to destroy the hospital and kill Dr. Tom Catena, an American who is
the only surgeon working in the Nuba Mountains—the only person able to
piece together bodies torn apart by the shrapnel from barrel bombs dropped
by the more familiar Antonovs (a retrofitted Russian-built cargo plane that
flies at high altitudes and has no bomb targeting mechanism, ensuring they
have no militarily useful accuracy). The Sukhoi-24 used on May 1, however,
is another matter: although not a state-of-the-art air-to-ground attack
aircraft, it has more than enough accuracy and fire-power against an
undefended hospital, and considerable destruction was inflicted. In turn,
people fled and the hospital was abandoned by those who were ambulatory.
Not all patients were. As Nuba Reports noted at the time

At 10am [May 1, 2014] the [Sukhoi-24] dropped 5 bombs in a straight line
between the staff quarters and the hospital. Nobody was killed, but in a
matter of minutes the hospital was emptied. Hundreds of patients and
visitors fled into the bush, or caves in nearby mountains. [A video of this
has been posted with the Nuba Reports dispatch.]

The aircraft was identified by Tom Catena, who began working in the Nuba
even before the outbreak of fighting in 2011 and has courageously remained
to do his singularly important surgical work (see my interview of Dr.
Catena at http://wp.me/p45rOG-Zw ).

Six weeks later, the hospital of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans
Frontière (MSF) in Frandala was heavily bombed on June 16,
inflicting severe damage and wounding six noncombatants—three of them
severely. Perhaps unwisely, MSF had provided Khartoum with their location
precisely so as to forestall such an attack.

During an aerial attack on a Sudanese village, Sudan’s air force bombed and
partially destroyed a hospital run by the international medical
humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontière/Doctors Without Borders
(MSF) in the war-torn South Kordofan region on Monday, depriving civilians
of critical medical care, the organization said today. As bombs struck the
village of Farandalla [more commonly spelled Frandala] on 16 June, two hit
the MSF hospital. Five people were wounded in the village and one MSF staff
member was injured at the hospital. MSF medical teams treated the wounded
and organized the transfer of three severely injured patients to another
hospital. (*MSF Press Release, 17 June 2014)*

[A number of disturbing images of victims of Khartoum’s indiscriminate
bombing of civilians in the Nuba may be found at:

http://sudanreeves.org/2014/05/29/aerial-bombardment-of-the-nuba-mountains-continuing-terrorism-from-the-skies/

;
caution is urged, as some image are quite ghastly.]

What is notable, and a measure of Khartoum’s sense of impunity, is what
occurred between the two attacks. In one sense, of course, nothing
happened. But convinced that perhaps increasing the rhetorical volume might
make a difference, the Obama administration had the United States
ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, issue an unusually strong statement,
reported by Agence France-Press:

The US ambassador to the United Nations accused Sudan Thursday [12 June
2014] of intensifying attacks on civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile
states, and of deliberately bombing schools and hospitals. Samantha Power
condemned “in the strongest possible terms” attacks she said were being
carried out by the Sudanese government and its rapid support forces against
ordinary people. Ground and air attacks have increased since April, with
hundreds of barrel bombs and other ordnance dropped on towns and villages,
deliberately targeting hospitals and schools, she said. (Agence
France-Presse [UN/New York], 13 June 2014)

All true. And yet four days later, Khartoum offered its response to this
“condemnation”: it bombed the MSF hospital. Such contemptuous flouting of
the U.S. is nothing new on Khartoum’s part, and for its part the U.S. had
no further comment of significance—certainly nothing that harkened back to
Ambassador Power’s statement of June 12. Inevitably, such a sequence of
statements and actions only works to deepen the regime’s sense of impunity.

And it is this impunity that lies behind the burning of crops and the
destruction of food storage sites that are apparently beginning in earnest,
as they have for the past four agricultural cycles. And the human
consequences are likely to be catastrophic: the Sudan Relief and
Rehabilitation Organization, over a month before the ominous meeting of
Khartoum’s security and military officials on August 31, warned:

*Sudan Government offensive drives 1.1 million civilians to brink of
starvation*
*Press Release from the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Organisation, Juba,
South Sudan*

*Juba, 8 July 2014.* Attacked from the air and from the ground, women and
children have been forced to cower in caves. Fields have been left untilled
and cattle uncared for. A carefully conducted survey, carried out at great
risk by workers in the field, has revealed the scale of the looming
catastrophe, which is detailed in the 4th SRRA report on the humanitarian
and human rights situation of the war-affected people in Southern Kordofan
and Blue Nile States of Sudan.

The dry season offensive – launched by the Sudanese Armed Forces in January
this year – has driven civilians away from their homes and their farms. Now
they are on the brink of catastrophe. The Sudanese authorities are well
aware of the seasons for planting and harvesting and the intensification of
bombardments reported in May, June and November, December and January,
indicate that the Government is intentionally attempting to disrupt these
critical periods in the agricultural year. *It is a deliberate strategy
designed to use of starvation as a weapon of warfare.*

The Nuba Mountains, like Darfur, presents a spectacle of human suffering
and destruction that are unconscionably neglected—though not for lack of
knowledge of what is occurring. In addition to the multiple reports cited
above:

*UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs *
*Humanitarian Bulletin: Sudan | Issue 47 | 17 – 23 November 2014*

*Highest levels of food insecurity in Sudan are in SPLM-N areas, FEWS NET*

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) reported in its
September 2014 food security outlook report for Sudan that through December
2014 at least 20 percent of displaced people in Sudan Peoples Liberation
Movement-controlled areas of South Kordofan [mainly the Nuba Mountains—ER]
will experience *Crisis (IPC Phase 3)* levels of food insecurity. This is
primarily due to restricted access to humanitarian assistance, ongoing
conflict, and reduced access to cash income from seasonal agricultural
labour.

[In the FEWS Net classification scheme, a “Crisis Phase” is defined in the
following terms

“At least 1 in 5 households face significant food consumption gaps with
high or above usual acute malnutrition, or is marginally able to meet
minimum food needs only with unsustainable coping strategies such as
liquidating livelihood assets”—ER.]

According to FEWS NET, SPLM-North areas in South Kordofan have the highest
level of food insecurity in Sudan. The Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation
Agency (SRRA), the humanitarian arm of SPLM-N, reported in August 2014 that
there were 500,000 displaced people in SPLM-N areas in South Kordofan and
Blue Nile. UN agencies do not have access to SPLM-N areas and cannot verify
the scope of civilian displacement and humanitarian needs in SPLM-N areas.

UN agencies do not have access because Khartoum refuses to grant any
humanitarian access to the areas of the Nuba controlled by the SPLM-N. Even
humanitarian assessments are conducted only at considerable risk by the
SRRA, and occasionally by outside actors such as Enough.

How is it that the international community remains silent about the denial
of humanitarian access to starving Nuba people—what amounts to a crime
against humanity? How is it that the international community brings no
significant pressure on Khartoum to halt its campaign of deliberately
bombing civilian and humanitarian targets, again—in aggregate—crimes
against humanity? Whether we look to South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Darfur, or
the massively unreported suffering in eastern Sudan, why do these human
realities not matter sufficiently to generate effective action? Why haven’t
the countries of Europe imposed comprehensive economic sanctions on
Khartoum, comparable to those of the U.S.?

And as Khartoum pushes toward it goal of starving the Nuba, why does the
international community ignore the frankly avowed and well begun campaign
of this regime?

“This year the Sudan People’s Army managed to cultivate large areas in
South Kordofan State. We must not allow them to harvest these crops. *We
should prevent them. Good harvest means supplies to the war effort. We
must starve them…*

Yet again, there are no morally acceptable answers.

*What starvation looks like; what does it say about the Khartoum regime
that it is willing to use such suffering as a weapon of war?*

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
413-585-3326
ereeves@smith.edu

African journalists call for more investigative reporting to uncover corruption

Premium Times/allAfrica

Investigative journalists from 14 countries in West and Central Africa, are calling attention to what they call “the disastrous effects of corruption and illicit trafficking on human development and security” in the region, and urging journalists to embrace the challenge of investigative techniques to expose corruption and illicit trafficking which they say have held down human development and worsen security situation in the region.

After a one-week regional workshop in Saly, Senegal, on the investigation and reporting of corruption and organized crime in the Sahel, participants who were joined by journalists from Latin America and Europe, challenged their African peers to see value in collaborative investigative networks as a way of freeing the region from the cancer of corruption, organised crimes,

The participants said the “continuing impunity for these crimes and the lack of satisfactory action of institutions mandated to fight against these phenomena”, as well as threats of criminal prosecution and physical insecurity faced by investigative journalists in the performance of their work in the region make the need for a renewed response to these crimes the major agenda for development in the region today.

Participant saluted the recent emergence of the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) and asked that journalist push governments to give value to their treaty obligations under Article 13 of the UN Convention against Corruption.

The treaty provides that “Each State Party shall take appropriate measures to promote the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector.

The participation, it adds, should be strengthened by such measures to respect, promote and protect the freedom to seek, receive, publish and disseminate information concerning corruption.

The governments are also undo obligation under Article 5 of the Convention of the African Union to “adopt such legislative and other measures to protect informants and witnesses in cases of corruption and related offenses, including their identity” and to “adopt measures to ensure that citizens report instances of corruption without fear of consequent reprisals”.

Participants in the workshop encouraged journalists and media in the region to also explore UNESCO guidelines on access to information adopted in 2004 in Paris, and to practice more investigation and go beyond mere revelations; and establish local structures for this purpose.

Challenging African journalists and media to use new technologies to network in and beyond the region and develop a database for press articles on corruption and organized crime, participants also called on regional media practitioners to implement platforms for citizens to report acts of corruption and organized crime.

They invited the media to always exercise good judgment and responsibility in carrying out their investigations; encouraging investigative journalists to strengthen their collaboration with anti-corruption authorities and anti-organized crime institutions in the region.

But they also urged regional governments to promote access to information through the adoption of appropriate legislation; as well as take the necessary steps to decriminalize press offenses and to ensure the physical protection of investigative journalists, even as they adopt appropriate measures, including legislation, to protect witnesses and whistle-blowers.

The event was upported by the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Panos Institute West Africa (PIWA), the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).