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UNAMID chief inches closer to handing over six IDPs delegates to Khartoum: report

September 28, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – The head of the joint African Union - United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Ibrahim Gambari appears to be inching closer to transferring five of the six individuals residing in Kalma IDP camp who are wanted by the Sudanese government on allegations that they were behind violence that broke out in late July killing dozens and injuring scores more.

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Joint special representative of U.N.-African Union peacekeepers in Darfur (UNAMID) Ibrahim Gambari talks to the United Kingdom’s Special Envoy to Sudan Michael Ryder (L) and British ambassador to Sudan Nicholas Kay (R) during the Consultative meeting on Darfur peace strategy in Khartoum August 26, 2010 (Reuters)

UNAMID has initially resisted Khartoum’s demands to hand over the IDP’s at the South Darfur camp unless the government meets a set of demands that guarantees their rights under international law including a pledge not to carry out any death penalties should they be convicted.

The peacekeeping force at the same time advised the Sudanese government that it is in best interest to drop their issue to avoid undermining the peace process in Doha and provoking further violence by disgruntled IDP’s.

However, Innercitypress website reporting from the UN revealed a letter exchange between the Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti and Gambari seeking agreement on the terms of the surrender.

A senior UN official confirmed to Sudan Tribune the authenticity of the letters.

"UNAMID and the Government of Sudan agree that the issue of the individuals in the Kalma camp should be resolved in a manner that promotes reconciliation, security and the broader goal of achieving a lasting peace in Darfur. They shall refrain from any action that might create or exacerbate political tensions, including, in particular, with respect to any penalty that might be imposed in the event that any of the individuals in the Kalma camp CPC are convicted of alleged crimes" said a document titled ’ Additional term’s of the Government’s’ assurances for the transfer of the five individuals from the Kalma CPC to the host country authorities’.

In the document, the peacekeeping force appears to have reversed its position on the death penalty while seeking to improve the chances of that not occurring.

• First (blood relatives of the victims of the alleged crimes will be called upon to exercise their power to waive the death penalty and seek payment of compensation in the form of "blood money" instead;
• Second, regardless of the outcome of any formal judicial process, the Government will seek reconciliation through the Ajaweed traditional justice;
• Third, the President has the prerogative of mercy which he has confirmed he will exercise in the event that the death penalty is imposed on the accused.
• Fourth, the Government is committed to the success of UNAMID and will therefore refrain from any action in connection with the five individuals in the Kalma camp CPC that might undermine UNAMID’s ability to conduct its activities in an effective manner or undermine confidence among IDPs and other vulnerable groups that UNAMID and other international agencies are meant to protect.
• Finally, in the interest of transparency, in the event that any of the five individuals are held in custody pending prosecution or incarcerated after a fair trial, the Government shall facilitate unrestricted access to them by UNAMID’s Human Rights Division, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other relevant human rights organizations.

The Sudanese diplomat assures Gambari in the letter that the IDP’s " would be afforded due process of law in a fair and transparent manner and would be treated in accordance with universally agreed human rights and humanitarian law standards; and that when the judicial process is over, the Government of Sudan will seek reconciliation through the intervention of Ajaweed traditional justice".

But Karti emphasized that Sudan "has the sovereign right to apply the death penalty as such a penalty is not illegal under international law and is part of Sudan’s criminal code".

According to Gambari’s response the handover will take place as soon as the foreign ministry provides written confirmation agreeing to UNAMID’s additional terms.

"In view of the foregoing, we propose that the issue of the five individuals be brought to a conclusion on the basis of the assurances for their treatment provided in the Ministry’s Note Verbale of 7 September 2010 as well as on the basis of the additional terms set forth in the attachment hereto," Gambari writes.

The events that took place in Kalma camp were reportedly the result of fighting between those loyal to Abdel Wahid al-Nur, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), and others who are supporters of the peace process currently underway in Doha between Khartoum and a rebel umbrella, Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM).

Divisions are deep over the Qatar-based talks which have made little progress in the absence of the two main rebel groups. Mediators flew more than 400 civil society representatives to Doha, but the violence broke out after they returned to Darfur. The two main Darfur rebel groups, SLM-Nur and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) are not at the Doha talks.

Al-Nur has warned UNAMID of repercussions after the incidents saying it bear the consequences if they allow Sudanese authorities to enter the camps, which are believed to house his supporters.