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Sudanese sue French bank for complicity in Darfur crimes

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The headquarters of BNP Paribas in Paris. (AP Photo)
September 26, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Nine Sudanese victims of crimes committed by the al-Bashir’s regime in Darfur region have filled a lawsuit against the French international banking group BNP Paribas accusing it of complicity in the grave human rights violations committed in the western Sudan region.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Project Expedite Justice said they supported nine Sudanese victims to file a criminal complaint "targeting BNP Paribas for alleged complicity in crimes against humanity, torture, and genocide that took place in Sudan, as well as financial offence".

"This complaint marks the first attempt to hold the French bank criminally responsible for alleged complicity in international crimes committed in Sudan, and Darfur in particular. Between at least 2002 and 2008, BNPP was considered to be Sudan’s “de facto central bank," further said the statement.

Four years ago in May 2015, an American judge condemned the BNPP to pay $8.9 billion for violating sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran.

The French banking group at the time pleaded guilty to violations of U.S. economic sanctions on Sudan.

"We call on the French authorities to promptly open an investigation to determine whether BNP is criminally responsible for its dealings with Sudan," said Michel Tubiana, lawyer and honorary President of the French Ligue des droits de l’Homme.

At the time, the U.S. Department of Justice has described BNPP as Sudan’s "de facto central bank" because it gave the Sudanese government access to the U.S. financial system and processed billions of dollars worth of transactions on behalf of sanctioned Sudanese entities, underscored the statement.

The BNPP has been facing similar accusations since 2017 for alleged "complicity in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity" during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

Former Sudanese officials and militia leaders including the ousted President Omer al-Bashir are accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In 2013, UN agencies estimated that Darfur conflict killed up to 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million.

The lawsuit is supported also by the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, Sudan Human Rights Monitor and the Ligue des droits de l’Homme.

(ST)

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