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Thursday, December 14, 2006


EU urged to be tougher with Sudanese leaders over Darfur.

EU leaders should support tough action against Sudanese leaders for their failure to end abuses in Darfur, the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

On the eve of a two-day EU summit in Brussels, the campaigning groups called for individual sanctions on Sudanese leaders, an assets freeze and a travel ban.

"Millions of civilians are paying the price for nearly four years of unkept promises and empty commitments," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "With Khartoum having long learned that the global response is all bark and no bite, the situation is again predictably deteriorating and spreading across neighboring borders."

The two global NGOs called for the imposition of strong new economic, legal and military measures unless Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir acts immediately to stop all attacks on civilians, accepts the proposed new African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force, and cooperates fully in new political settlement efforts.

"Bashir has just been laughing at the 'do this or else' resolutions passed by the UN Security Council so far," said Gareth Evans, president of the International Crisis Group.

Already the EU has tabled a draft UN resolution calling for a mission to be dispatched under the auspices of the UN human rights expert on Sudan.

This is opposed by the African group, which itself has tabled amendments calling for the mission to be composed of diplomats and headed by the UN Human Rights Council president.

The Council in Geneva resumed its special session on Darfur on Wednesday, with member states still divided.

In a further sign of growing international pressure for action on Darfur, British Premier Tony Blair was reported to have backed US plans to impose a no-fly zone on the province, a call also supported by the NGOs.

The rights groups also called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to extend its present investigations into crimes against humanity already committed, "and to threaten robust action against any future atrocity crimes, to maintain legal pressure on the Khartoum regime."

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he plans to indict suspects for Darfur atrocities by February, nearly two years after the Security Council asked him to probe the region.

Moreno-Ocampo, in a report ahead of his address Thursday to the council, said his office was preparing submissions for arrest warrants to judges of the ICC's pretrial chamber.

Arrest warrants are equivalent to indictments at the ICC, the world's first permanent criminal court based in The Hague.

Moreno-Ocampo said that since the investigation began, his team has carried out more than 70 missions to 17 different countries and conducted more than 100 interviews, many of which were with victims of crimes in Darfur.

He said Sudan so far had not conducted trials for the most serious crimes "and those who bear the greatest responsibility for those crimes."

Source: Daily Star.

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