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U.S. Congressmen voice concerns over Sudan’s sanctions-easing process

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U.S. President Donald Trump looks on following a swearing-in ceremony for Defence Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon on January 27, 2017 (Reuters/Carlos Barria Photo)

March 30, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - U.S. Congressmen this week have sent a message to the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to express their concern about the easing of sanctions on Sudan.

New U.S. President Donald Trump is focusing his efforts during the first 100 days of his mandate on electoral pledges. Also, this period has been marred by conflict with the courts over his travel ban order, healthcare reform and investigation on Russian interference.

Despite the deep engagement of the U.S. Administration under the former President Barak Obama in the two countries, the continuation of war and declared famine in South Sudan, no new special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan has been yet appointed.

Frustrated by the situation, the three co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Sudan and South Sudan, Reps. Thomas Rooney, Michael Capuano and Barbara Lee on Tuesday sent a joint letter to Secretary Tillerson urging him to take immediate action to improve the U.S. diplomatic and humanitarian policies toward the two countries.

Strict Monitoring on Sudan Sanction-Easing Process

On Sudan, the Congressmen voiced concerns about the decision of Obama administration to ease sanctions on Sudan next July after a review conducted by different U.S. agencies of Khartoum cooperation in the counterterrorism, humanitarian access to civilians in the conflict-affected areas, and regional stability including peace in South Sudan and anti-LRA regional efforts.

" We are concerned about the recent easing of sanctions and increasing trade with Sudan. It is critical that the actions of the government be closely monitored to determine if these steps towards normalcy actually result in an improved situation on the ground for the people of Sudan."

The lawmakers asked the State Department to inform them about the achieved benchmarks that justified the easing of sanctions, the ongoing review and to ensure that partial left of sanctions is improving the lives of the Sudanese people.

They further urged to consider targeted sanctions on Sudanese official responsible for the continuation of the conflict.

"If the easing of sanctions has emboldened worse actions, we urge you to inform us and consider tightening enforcement mechanisms and more sharply targeting the military and financial assets of those responsible for continuing the conflict, atrocities, and mass corruption," they stressed.

Sudan has been under American economic and trade sanctions since 1997 for its alleged connection to terror networks and remains on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror. The first batch of sanctions restrict U.S. trade and investment with Sudan and block government’s assets of the Sudanese government.

Additional sanctions in relations with the conflict in Darfur region were introduced by two Executive Orders in 2006.

Hearing on Human rights in Sudan

In a related development, U.S. Congress Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission next Tuesday 4 April will hold a hearing on the easing of sanctions on Sudan and its effect on human rights.

Human rights activists are invited to give their position on " what is the measure of Sudan’s progress towards improvements on its human rights record since the easing of sanctions?"

"Omer Ismail, Senior Adviser, The Enough Project, Ken Isaacs, Vice President of Programs and Government Relations, Samaritan’s Purse, Miles Windsor, Advocacy and Development Director, Middle East Concern, and Jehanne Henry, Senior Researcher, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch" are the expected to speak in this event.

Sudanese officials say the human rights record is not part of the five-track deal sealed with Obama’s administration.

(ST)

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