The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Eighth Human Rights Book Fair, Held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, from November 3-5 2003,
Considering the provisions of the Constitutive Act of the African Union as well as those of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which require that African States undertake all the necessary measures to ensure the safety and personal security of all individuals living within their geographic boundaries without distinction on any ground;
Mindful that the Sudan is a State party to the aforementioned instruments and, therefore, it is morally and legally bound to fully and effectively implement their provisions and respect and promote the human and peoples’ rights concepts set therein;
Alarmed by the numerous reports by UN agencies, and by national and international human rights organisations and that such reports continue to document massive and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in many parts of the country despite the ongoing peace negotiations to end the civil wars in the Southern and Central regions of the country;
Deeply disturbed by the devastating armed conflict between the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Government and its allied militia groups that erupted in the Darfur region since March 2003 and in which indiscriminate aerial bombardment by Government military jets and ground assaults by the army and its allied militia groups are routinely conducted and that thousands of innocent civilians, mainly from the Black African tribes of the region in particular members of the Fur, Zagghawa, Massaleet and other African tribes, have lost their lives as a result of these military operations;
Alarmed further that the armed conflict in Darfur has caused massive internal displacement of at least half a million person mainly from among the African tribes and that these persons currently live in abject poverty around major towns of the region as they lost all their property and livelihood while others, in particular women, children and the elderly, were forced to seek refuge in neighbouring Chad;
Deeply concerned that various reports issued by UN Agencies and other international humanitarian organisations indicated that the internally displaced persons, refugees and those affected by the armed conflict in the Darfur region are living under precarious conditions without enough food, shelter, sanitation or medical services and that these persons lack safety and security;
Noting with appreciation the important role being played by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, humanitarian organisations and the Government of Chad in the provision of relief material to refugees from Darfur despite the difficulties they encounter and that the Government of Sudan has not yet allowed UN agencies and humanitarian organisations access to the affected persons inside the Darfur region;
We call on the Government of Sudan to undertake the following measures:
1. It should fully and unconditionally respect its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as other regional and international human rights treaties to which the Sudan is a State Party.
2. Undertakes immediate measures to end the military operations in the Darfur region and in particular arrest military activities by its allied militia groups, compensate the victims of atrocities and bring those responsible for the crimes committed in the region to justice.
3. Dissolves and outlaws all groups and organisations known to be committing killings and violence or propagating racial hatred and intolerance in the Darfur region in particular the Janjaweed and Murahleen militia groups as well as the Arab Congregation and its affiliates Gureesh I and Gureesh II which were established since 1988.
4. Rebuilds the destroyed areas, reinstate the displaced persons in their original villages, and ensure their safety and personal security and that immediate measures be undertaken to end the growing tendency of confiscation of land and property owned by African tribes by other groups.
5. The Government should embark on a genuine process of reconciliation, democratisation and development in the Darfur region by addressing the root causes of the ongoing crisis and work out a lasting solution to the problems of exploitation and underdevelopment faced by the people of the region.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
6. We call upon the 34th Ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to take up the situation of human and peoples’ rights in the Darfur region in its present session and undertake all possible measures to ensure that these violations come to a halt as a matter of priority.
Done in Banjul, November 5th, 2003