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A Horizon for Permanent Peace

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A Horizon for Permanent Peace
SHRO-Cairo Observers’ Group

Essentiality of all-Parties’ participation and the Inclusion of Human Rights

In July 2002, the Sudan Government signed with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and Movement (SPLM/SPLA) the Machakos Protocol in Nairobi. By Protocol, the two partners agreed on cease-fire towards the finalization of a permanent peace agreement. The IGAD-sponsored peace talks were restricted to only two parties, the government and the SPLM. Whereas the latter says it has been consulting with the civil society in the South, the government stands against the participation of civil society or the political forces of the North.

Although the Protocol indicates that the issue of human rights should be insured by the expected peace agreement, the negotiation rounds have thus far confined themselves to the issues of distributing wealth and authority and the problems of borders and security arrangements despite the extreme importance of including human rights provisions in any upcoming agreement, as a major concern.

It was possible in the last few months to make many strides with respect to a number of issues under negotiation, which SHRO-Cairo welcomes as remarkable progression. The Organization, however, is concerned that the negotiations continue bilateral as well as strictly limited to the crisis of war in the South. The Organization is aware that civil war comprised one of the most tragic aspects of the Sudan’s Crisis. We believe, however, that a real just and permanent peace will not come about without the achievement of a comprehensive and uprooting settlement for the crisis.

The Security Arrangements

September 25, 2003, the two partners signed an agreement in Naivasha on the security arrangements in the Interim Period. The agreement covered a number of issues such as the status and role of armies, cease-fire, and troops’ size, coordination, and location.

Concerning the status of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAFs) and the SPLA, the Framework Agreement on Security Arrangements During the Interim Period (Naivasha, September 25, 2003) states: "In the context of a united Sudan, and should the result of the referendum on self-determination confirm unity, the Parties agree to the formation of the future army of Sudan shall be composed of the SAF and the SPLA."

SAF, in its present-time situation, doesn’t represent a national army. Equally, the SPLA is not an army fully representative of the multiple ethnicities of the South. The future army would become an army composed of certain ideologies that are not necessarily expressive of the whole Homeland. Clearly, there wouldn’t be much change in the structure of the armed forces or the SPLA, should the referendum result ends unfavorably for unity. This means that SAF would continue as a military force of the ruling Islamic group and a tool of authority to subdue political opponents of the regime.

Para 1 (d) of the Framework also states: "The National Armed Forces should have no internal law and other mandate except in constitutionally specified emergencies." Because the emergency law, however, is continuously enforced, it is most likely that SAF would be abused to repress the political opposition.

In Para 3 (d) on Redeployment, the SPLM/A "undertakes that demobilized Southern Sudanese from those currently serving in SAF in Southern Sudan shall be absorbed into various institutions of the Government of Southern Sudan along with demobilized SPLA soldiers."

There is not any indication in this Para or the Framework, in general, about the rights of thousands of officers and soldiers who were unlawfully dismissed from SAF for political reasons. Para (d) unmasks the intention of the ruling regime to demobilize the southerners who are presently working in SAF, to strengthen the Islamist grip on the armed forces. The provision for absorbing them in institutions of the Southern Government, as well as the Southern Army, indicates that they would be deprived on one hand from the profession they are skilled in and that the SPLM/A is determined to maintain the SPLA structure or identity as it stands today.

Para 7 (a) further stipulates "No armed group allied to either party shall be allowed to operate outside the two forces." This means that the two parties are interested in the militias and armed groups they have been operating in the conflict. It is an expression of the lack of confidence of the Two Parties in the next peace agreement.

The Security Framework has not taken in consideration the status of security and police forces. The Arrangements only dictate: "Structures and arrangements affecting all law enforcement organs, especially the Police, and National Security Organs shall be dealt with as part of the power sharing arrangements, and tied where is necessary to the appropriate level of the executive."

The Agreement on Wealth Sharing

On January 7, 2004, the Sudan Government and the SPLM signed an Agreement on Wealth Sharing During the Pre-Interim and Interim Period. The Parties agreed that "fifty percent (50%) of net oil revenue derived from oil producing wells in Southern Sudan shall be allocated to the Government of Southern Sudan ? the National Government shall allocate fifty (50%) of the national non-oil revenue collected in Southern Sudan ? to the Government of Southern Sudan." The Parties agreed "to have a dual banking system in Sudan during the Interim Period. An Islamic banking system shall operate in Northern Sudan and conventional banking system shall operate in Southern Sudan."

SHRO-Cairo believes that the agreement provision for an Islamic bank in the North and a secular one in the South and the announcements relayed to government officials reveal the direction of the negotiations: consolidating the ruling regime of the North with a free hand to execute its non-democratic Islamic Project while empowering the SPLM to control the South. The Organization believes that this result would frustrate the aspirations of the Sudanese and their democratic forces that successfully touched upon the political crisis and have made significant national agreements to solve the crisis.

The Charter of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) correctly advised that the real peace would only be accomplished on the basis of "democracy rules, the right to citizenship, justice and the respect of human rights." The real peace will come about based on "the political, civil, economic, and cultural rights as expressed in terms of the right to life, the freedoms of organization, thought, faith, expression, publication, and movement, and the human rights guarantees by international law."

These democratic forces have rightfully appreciated in the NDA Charter the need to establish peace based upon these significant principles: "a) independence of the judiciary, supremacy of the law, and separation of powers; b) independence of the high education institutes and research centers; c) independence of a unified and democratic trade unionist movement; d) the national character of the Armed Forces, Police, and the other regular forces; and e) ensuring that the information media, both in print and audio-visual, maintain a national character in such a manner as to reflect the cultural diversity and the pluralist political and religious nature of the Sudanese society."

Added to this, it is not possible to establish peace and stability under the existing repressive laws without applying the rule of accountability and the trial of all those who abused the authority or grievously harmed civilians as well as the national resources. Peace and stability would not be affordable without full demobilization and disarmament of the militias.

The Organization holds that the right of self-determination must be ensured for all regional groups instead of granting it only to armed groups. If the ongoing peace talks have neglected from the beginning the participation of the other concerned political parties, the Organization thinks that it is extremely important to insure such participation as well signatory approval by these groups to the next agreements.

The mediators have successfully helped to bring about cease-fire agreements in the South throughout the last 10 months. The civilians were able to live peacefully for the first time in this period. But the military scope of the conflict and the human suffering was escalated to unprecedented levels in Western Sudan where the government troops have been launching acts of genocide against the African groups in the region. Eastern Sudan, from its part, hasn’t yet enjoyed stability while gross human rights violations ravaged the whole country.

The political crisis and the absence of democracy in Sudan still are the major factors for the injustices and the marginalization of most parts of the country. The result is that any settlement that wouldn’t touch deeply upon the real causes of the crisis to instate real democratic rule, and the peace talks that wouldn’t insure the participation of all concerned parties, would not be able to establish the required peace and the desirable settlement.

The Organization - with full appreciation to the serious efforts the mediators generously exerted to finalize a peace agreement - cautions against the rush for peace, which might produce an incomplete agreement without covering the issues in question, or ensuring the participation of all parties in the peace process. The Organization recalls the Addis Ababa Agreement of March 1972 which, being confined to only two partners, ignored important issues and was not sustainable despite many guarantees by the OAU and the International Churches Council

SHRO-Cairo affirms that a final cease fire agreement must be internationally supervised by a peace keeping force, not only by IGAD supervisors or the joint forces of the Two Parties, as the Sudan Government wants.

The task of separating between 20-year warring armies would not be easy for a team of international observers. The operation needs international peace keeping forces enabled with necessary means and facilities to accomplish this goal. As far as this Organization knows, many States are willing to participate in the proposed peace keeping force as soon as the peace agreement would be finalized. The Organization is afraid there is not a logical explanation for the fears of Sudan Government from the involvement of such peace forces in the peace process.

According to IGAD, three teams would observe the cease-fire agreement in the Interim Period, These teams are composed of a Joint Monitoring Commission (JMC), an international team to monitor execution of the agreement (of which a group has been monitoring the cease-fire agreement in the Nuba Mountains), and an American initiative of a Civilian Protection Monitoring Unit (CPMT) adopted after the March 2002 Protocol.

SHRO-Cairo calls upon the Sudan Government and its security forces to stop prosecuting political opponents or detaining them. The government is required to allow civil society activists to discuss the peace issues in question. The Sudanese must have the freedom to discuss their future at the time the Sudan Government and the SPLM negotiate ways to end the civil war within the peace process. The unabated determination of the government curtails the freedom of assembly and expression, and harasses civil society activists and political opponents. All this indicates the government’ intent to deprive the North civil society’s from the right to decide upon the future of their country.

This passing period of time was rampant with gross human rights violations (see our report on the Human Rights Situation in Sudan). The Sudan Government’s current record as a worst violator of human rights is undisputable. The SPLA record is not above suspicion. Hence, it is not expected that the Two Parties would make the effort to provide for accountability of the serious crimes committed throughout the past. The mediators, notwithstanding, and the International Community must insure the accountability for egregious crimes, in addition to the establishment of modalities for research, investigation, and documentation of these crimes. With the absence of accountability and the non-compensation of victims, the rule of law would be threatened whenever the victims ask for their rights or resort to acts of vengeance.

SHRO-Cairo asserts that the most heinous crimes that should be promptly investigated include the:

-  Willful attacks indiscriminately launched against civilians and extra-judicial killings;
-  Forced displacement of civilians and the prevention of aid to the displaced persons;
-  Tortures of the accused political opponents; and
-  Kidnapping, abductions, lengthy detention, and unfair trials

The Organization draws the attention of the Two Parties, the IGAD, and the IGAD Friends (especially the United States of America) and Norway (the Troika) to insure deserved consideration to the human rights matters in any possible agreement. The Organization specifically points out to a number of fundamental rights that must be recognized and protected in any peace agreement. These rights include:

The Right to Life: The two parties committed, in varying degrees, extra-judicial killings of thousands of civilians in their long warring years. The government exercised ethnic-cleansing in different areas of the South and the Nuba Mountains. The Two Parties must commit themselves to stop all these atrocities against the civilians, and to respect in all time international human rights norms. The two sides must equally control their militias, demobilize them, and incorporate them in the civil service.

The Right to Enjoy Personal Freedoms and Safety: Millions of the Sudanese people who paid dearly as victims of the civil war are in dire need to enjoy personal freedoms and safety. The two parties must preserve the human dignity and safety of the Sudanese people without discrimination. This means the creation of democratically elected civil systems of administration to assure accountability, besides the adoption of strong democratization processes for the disciplinary forces.

The Right to Protection from Torture, Degrading or Cruel Punishment, or the Death Penalty: The parties in conflict, especially the Sudan Government, committed atrocities including tortures, amputations, rape, and enslavement of civilians. The government security forces became involved, with impunity, in the tortures of thousands of political opponents as well as human rights activists. The acts enforced along with the Sudan Penal Code permitted the infliction of cruel or degrading punishments such as flogging, amputation, hanging, and crucifixion. The next peace agreements must abrogate these punishments, as well criminalizing them, and then hold accountable all perpetrators of the extra-judicial crimes before the independent judiciary.

The Right to Protection From Arbitrary Arrest or Denial of Public Trial: These previous years, thousands of persons were arbitrarily arrested and detained for lengthy periods of time without legal charge. The Sudan Law must clearly specify the lawlessness of arbitrary arrest. The accused persons should be able, by law, to contact relatives and other family members, obtain legal advisement or consultation with lawyers, and must be tried before regular courts fully independent from State executives.

The Right to Enjoy the Freedom of Expression, Organization, and Peaceful Assembly: The Sudan Government has been violating these fundamental rights, detaining activists with imprisonment and tortures, censoring newspapers, and forcibly silencing opponents. The freedom to express ideas, impart information, and spread it, whether about peace, war, or the future of the country, should be firmly realized. All persons unlawfully detained as a result of exercising these rights must be immediately released.

The Right to Protection from Discrimination by Ethnicity, Religion, or Sex:
The policies of suppressing certain groups to adopt the faith or ideology of the governing elite must be immediately stopped together with any other legislation or decree that degrades the status of any population group, especially the women or any other minorities. In principle, discrimination by ethnicity, religion, sex, or any other criterion must be prohibited by law. To eliminate discrimination against the women, the Sudan Government should ratify CEDAW, the International Agreement that prohibits discrimination by sex.

The Organization believes that peace agreements must guarantee and protect the fundamental human rights through the establishment of an international monitoring body to develop the unit that the Two Parties in the peace negotiations established to monitor cease-fire violations or assaults against civilians. The task of placing the commitment to human rights under careful monitoring is not less significant than the cease-fire agreements or any other part of the peace process. The proposed human rights monitoring, however, must not be controlled by government authorities in any possible sense.

Peace agreements must be based on effective guarantees to protect the human rights of all Sudanese, including the right to participate in the Post-Interim Government. Until such agreement would be enforced, the opportunity must be provided for the Sudanese peoples to express opinion via their political parties and civil society groups. These views must be appreciated as part of the striving for national consensus. Needless to say that isolating any Sudanese group from participation in the peace national talks might motivate them to reject the upcoming agreements, or to rebel against them militarily or by other means of protest. This situation is clearly seen in the erupted crisis of DarFur and the other regions of Sudan.

The agreements achieved so far, approved the conduct of free elections at end of the Interim Period. The Organization believes that the presence of an independent monitoring unit is essentially required to insure free elections in the Pre and/or Post-Interim periods. The absence of this proposed unit will motivate the government to continue human rights violations in the North, which will further undermine the anticipated elections and will threaten the planned democratic transition as a whole.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) with its Islamist policies has been controlling the country since June 1989. The NCP heavily relied throughout this period on monopolizing the State powers and abilities to entrench its partisan interests, forcibly weakening the political opponents and persecuting the trade unionist and the students’ movements with unlawful intrusions. The ruling party must not be allowed to commit more violations. The proposed monitoring unit would constitute a significant means to curb these and other authoritative abuses.

SHRO-Cairo affirms that the power-status of the armed groups and militias, as well as the regular security and police forces, should be carefully controlled by the State to sustain the upcoming peace agreements and to protect the peaceful citizens at large from intimidation. There are now more than 30 Southern armed militias of which many are government-supported - all operating independently from the SPLA. Most of these militias, however, were originally part of the SPLA before they split in 1991 with exchangeable accusations or were directly supported by the government.

In May 2003, the SPLM did not attend a meeting sponsored by the Sudanese Churches Council to reconcile the warring groups. The SPLA obviously was not interested in collective reconciliation. Rather, the SPLM/A seemed to be concerned with unilateral reconciliations to be able to absorb the southern militias into its own organizational body. This plan, however, even if it could be successfully applied, would lead to a consolidation of a single political organization for the whole South, which might handicap the opportunity to achieve real democratic rule in the region.

In the North, the government maintains armed groups, whether they originally participated in the June military coup, or the paramilitary organizations, for example, the Peoples’ Defense Forces (PDFs) and the tribal militias of the Janjaweed - now actively operating in DarFur, Western Sudan. The government has equally established a battery of security and police organs other than the regular forces of the State. These non-regular bodies are controlled by the NCP ruling party. The persistence of these armed groups and bureaucratic structures is a permanent source of threat to the citizens and their civil freedoms. The peace agreements must firmly abrogate these groups and disarm them by law.

Recommendations

The Sudan Human Rights Organization Cairo Office calls upon the IGAD, the Troika, the Two Negotiating Parties, and the Sudanese Democratic Opposition and civil society groups to process in the next peace agreements these fundamental issues:

- Investigate the allegations concerning the violation of international human rights norms by any party to the conflict, and then enforce legal accountability before the independent judiciary on the indictable ones.

- Detect, document, and publish the violations and the abuses committed by the parties to the conflict since 1983.

- Establish, as top priority, an independent and effective Judicial System.

- Grant the right of self-determination to all minorities and marginal groups.

- Set-up an international unit, responsible for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, privileged with the means and necessary facilities to monitor the situation of human rights in the Interim Period.

- Insure all freedoms and rights for the Sudanese human rights and democracy organizations to be able to exercise human rights activities without government censor.

- Abolish the Sudan non-democratic laws (see in this respect, the democratic Bar Association, Justice Africa, and the SHRO-Cairo detailed projects on reforming the Sudan Laws in the transition to democracy).

- Revise the enforced laws and legislative acts (together with the next acts the Southern Government might enact or apply) to insure harmony with the international human rights norms, besides the urgent need to remove all restrictions from the civil society groups before and after finalization of the peace agreement.

- Ratify the International Agreement on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the other human rights conventions by the Sudan Government to which it must be firmly obligated.

- Provide for democratic elections with international monitoring on the local, regional, and central levels to fill political posts within 2 or 3 years - at most - from the day of finalizing the peace agreement.

- Reconcile the Southerner armed groups via a regional conference that should equally ascertain the principle of accountability without discrimination for the gross human rights violations thus far committed by the armed groups.

- Demobilize the operating armed militias with effective absorption that should apply developmental settlement programs.

- Democratize the Sudan disciplinary forces in accordance with the UN law enforcement conventions.

- Abrogate all non-regular security or police bodies, especially the PDFs, and the establishment - instead - of a professional disciplinary force, independently from partisan political or ideological influences. The recruited members must be free of suspicion regarding any human rights violation or abuses of authority.

- Ensure full rights of the disciplinary personnel that have been purged since June 1989 to enjoy job reinstitution and/or judicial compensation.

- Guarantee pluralist involvement for all parties to the conflict, in addition to the Two Parties currently negotiating the peace process.

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