458th Meeting of the Peace and Security Council on South Sudan

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, September 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 458th meeting held on 17 September 2014, was briefed by the Commission on the situation in South Sudan. Council took note of the statements made by the representatives of South Sudan, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU), as well as by those of France, Rwanda, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as members of the UN Security Council.

Council recalled its earlier communiqués and press statements on the situation in South Sudan. Council expressed its deep concern over the lack of progress in the political negotiations, including the non-compliance with the sixty days deadline for the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity, and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation. Council also strongly condemned all violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of 23 January 2014.

Council reiterated its gratitude to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and its Chairperson, Prime Minister Haile Mariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia, as well as the Team of Special Envoys, for their tireless efforts in the search for a lasting solution to the conflict in South Sudan. In this respect, Council welcomed the outcome of the 27th Extraordinary Session of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the situation in South Sudan, held in Addis Ababa, on 25 August 2014, which, inter alia, endorsed the Agreed Principles on Transitional Arrangements Towards Resolution of the Crisis in South Sudan. Council urged the South Sudanese stakeholders to conclude, within six weeks, negotiations on the necessary details to fully operationalize these Principles, as requested by the above-mentioned IGAD Summit.

Council welcomed the resumption, since 15 September 2014, of the South Sudan multi-stakeholders talks in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, under the auspices of IGAD. Council reminded the South Sudanese stakeholders of their primary responsibility in ending the untold suffering inflicted upon their people and achieving lasting peace, security, stability and reconciliation in their country.

Council reiterated its appeal to the parties to honour their commitments under the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and other subsequent Agreements, including the Implementation Matrix they signed and which sets out a timetable for disengagement, separation and disposition of forces.

Council, once again, reiterated its determination, in coordination with IGAD, to take the necessary measures against any party that fails to honour its commitments and continues to undermine the search for a negotiated solution to the current crisis. In this respect, Council requested the Commission to urgently initiate consultations with IGAD, with a view to making concrete recommendations on the way forward.

Council expressed its deep concern about the prevailing humanitarian situation in South Sudan and called for renewed efforts to assist the affected populations.

Council reiterated its full support to the AU Commission of Inquiry, mandated, as per communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM.1(CDXI) adopted at its 411th meeting, held in Banjul, The Gambia, on 30 December 2013, to investigate the human rights violations and other abuses committed during the armed conflict in South Sudan and make recommendations on the best ways and means to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities. Council looks forward to the submission of the report and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry.

Council reiterated its gratitude to the international partners for their invaluable support to the AU and IGAD efforts in South Sudan, and called upon them to pursue and increase their assistance.

Council agreed to remain actively seized of the matter.

Categories: AFRICA

458th Meeting of the Peace and Security Council on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, September 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 458th meeting held on 17 September 2014, adopted the following decision on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) decision:

Council

1. Takes note of the briefing given by the Commission, the statements made by the representatives of Chad, Chair of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Republic of the Congo, Mediator of ECCAS in the CAR crisis, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU), as well as by those of France, Rwanda, the United Kingdom and the United States of America in their capacity as members of the UN Security Council;

2. Reiterates its previous communiqués and press statements on the situation in the CAR, including communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.2(CCCLXXXV) adopted at its 385th meeting held on 19 December 2013, authorizing the deployment and specifying the mandate of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA), and communiqué PSC/PR/COMM (CDXXII), adopted at its 422nd meeting held on 7 March 2014, through which Council, among others, welcomed the envisaged deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation to consolidate the gains made by MISCA, with the support of the French Operation Sangaris, facilitate the long-term stabilization of the CAR and support the efforts aimed at tackling the root causes of the recurrent crises faced by the CAR;

3. Commends the outstanding work done by MISCA, with the support of Operation Sangaris and the EU Operation (EUFOR), in the fulfillment of the different aspects of its mandate, which led to a substantial improvement in the security situation, facilitated the commencement of the process aimed at restoring State authority, established the conditions for the resumption of the political process and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population affected by the crisis. Council notes with satisfaction that the completion by MISCA of the initial stabilization phase of the situation in the CAR has created conditions conducive for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation;

4. Pays tribute to the MISCA personnel for their commitment, courage and professionalism in the discharge of their mission, reiterates the sincere condolences of the AU to the families and countries of the 32 soldiers and police personnel who lost their lives in the accomplishment of their duties and conveys its wishes for a speedy recovery to the 179 injured uniformed personnel in the course of MISCA’s operations. Council welcomes the organization of a ceremony to pay tribute to the MISCA uniformed personnel, on 13 September 2014, in Bangui, in the presence of the CAR authorities and representatives of the troop and police contributing countries. Council expresses its deep appreciation to the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission and Head of MISCA, General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, as well as to the Force Commander, General Martin Chomou Tumenta, and the Head of its Police component, Colonel Patrice Ostangue Bengone, for their dedication and high sense of responsibility;

5. Pays tribute also to the troop and police contributing countries, namely Burundi, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and Chad, for their remarkable contributions to MISCA. Council pays tribute to ECCAS and its Member States, as well as to other African countries concerned (Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa), for their financial and logistical support to the MISCA;

6. Expresses, once again, its appreciation for the important contribution of the Sangaris and EUFOR operations to the stabilization of the situation in the CAR, as part of their support to MISCA and, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council;

7. Reiterates its gratitude to the multilateral and bilateral partners who provided financial and logistical support to MISCA, particularly the EU and its Member States (Luxembourg and the United Kingdom), the United States of America, Canada, Japan and Norway. Council also welcomes the technical support extended by the UN to MISCA;

8. Welcomes the successful transfer of authority from MISCA to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA), which took place in Bangui, on 15 September 2014, in the presence of the Chairperson of the Commission. Council congratulates the Commission and the UN General Secretariat on their close cooperation and work for the smooth transfer of authority;

9. Reiterates the importance of the continued role of the region, particularly through the actions of the current Chairperson of ECCAS and the Mediator of ECCAS in the CAR crisis, Presidents Idriss Déby Itno and Denis Sassou-Nguesso, and the AU, in support of the peace efforts in the CAR, including support for the ongoing political transition and other aspects of the stabilization process in the country, as well as the coordination of international efforts through the International Contact Group on the CAR (ICG-CAR), co-chaired by the AU Commission and the Republic of the Congo;

10. Encourages the ECCAS Mediator, with the support of the AU and UN Vice-Mediators, Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and Abdoulaye Bathily, to pursue his efforts to consolidate the outcome of the Forum held in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, from 21 to 23 June 2014, especially the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, and enable the implementation of Phases II and III of the process, as agreed to by the CAR stakeholders, which will take place in the CAR, with the holding of popular consultations in the 16 prefectures of the country and the convening of a National Reconciliation Forum in Bangui;

11. Fully supports the steps being taken by the Commission to maintain a strong presence in the CAR to enable the AU to continue to support the efforts to promote peace, security and stability in the CAR. In this regard, Council requests the Chairperson of the Commission to take urgently the necessary measures for the transformation of MISCA into an AU Mission for the CAR and Central Africa (MISAC), so as to enable the AU, in close coordination with ECCAS, MINUSCA and other relevant international actors, to continue to support the ongoing national efforts, with particular focus on: (i) support to the political transition, (ii) the organization of elections, (iii) national reconciliation, (iv) support to the disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration process, as well as to the security and justice sectors reform, (v) post-conflict reconstruction, (vi) gender, and (vii) facilitation of coordination between the AU-led Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA) and MINUSCA, in the discharge of their respective mandates;

12. Encourages the Commission, through MISAC and in close cooperation with ECCAS, as well as with other relevant international actors, to support more effectively the efforts of the countries of the region aimed at promoting peace, security and stability in the region;

13. Urges Member States to provide the necessary financial support to enable MISAC to play the role expected of it in the current phase of the process in the CAR. Council also appeals to the international partners, particularly the EU, within the framework of the African Peace Facility, to contribute to the financing of MISAC;

14. Urges the CAR stakeholders to redouble their efforts to successfully conclude the ongoing Transition in their country, in strict compliance with the principles that underpin the Transition. In this respect, Council reiterates the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance;

15. Reiterates its appeal to the CAR stakeholders to place the supreme interest of their country above partisan and other considerations, bearing in mind the spirit of the Brazzaville Forum, in order to effectively address the challenges facing their country, and stresses their primary responsibility. Council renews its support to the institutions and authorities of the Transition and urges them to leave no stone unturned to ensure the successful completion of the Transition and the organization of free, fair and credible elections;

16. Appeals to the international community to pursue and further enhance its support to the CAR, as well as to extend the required support to the countries of the region to enable them cope with the consequences of the CAR crisis;

17. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Categories: AFRICA

UNAMID welcomes conviction of attackers against peacekeepers in North Darfur

EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, September 22, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) welcomes the court verdict convicting three individuals accused of attacking the private residence of female UNAMID Police Advisors in El Fasher. This is the first case in which an attack against UNAMID peacekeepers has been brought to trial and the perpetrators sentenced.

The incident happened in the early hours of 10 April 2014, when the UNAMID personnel were attacked by a group of armed individuals. Two of the victims were robbed of their belongings at knife and gunpoint. One was sexually assaulted.

Sudanese police apprehended four persons suspected of having participated in the attack. After a trial which lasted from 5 June to 18 September, three of the accused were convicted of having committed armed robbery and sentenced to three years imprisonment. One of the accused was also convicted of rape, with an additional sentence of 5 years in prison.

UNAMID commends the excellent collaboration between the Mission and the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Darfur Crimes and calls on the Government of Sudan to further pursue and enhance this cooperation and ensure that all perpetrators of crimes against UNAMID peacekeepers be brought to justice.

Categories: AFRICA

AUC Chairperson’s Message on International Peace Day

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, September 22, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — AUC Chairperson’s Message on International Peace Day

September 21st is International Peace Day, a day devoted to peace and to end wars and violent conflicts.

However, peace is more than just achieving a war-free world. Peace is about economic independence and security. It is about a world free of sexual violence. It is about having universal education and health care services especially to young girls and women.

Peace is about social and political cohesion. It is about respecting and celebrating diversity in our continent and the world at large.

Thirty years after the UN General Assembly declared International Peace Day, Africa has taken major strides towards achieving a continent at peace with itself, its communities and the world.

Progress is possible because African women and men are putting their lives on the line to protect African citizens and maintain peace and security.

We therefore pay tribute to our African Peacekeepers and peacekeepers the world over, some of whom have lost their lives, while others have been seriously injured.

Last year on Peace Day, our vision for peace was challenged and compromised when terrorists attached the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya killing least 67 innocent people and leaving over 175 wounded.

We will continue to fight terrorism in all its forms, including the kidnapping of innocent school students.

As we celebrate this international peace day, our hearts go to those who have lost their lives in the battlefield, as well as in the Ebola epidemic currently plaguing an important part of our continent.

In the spirit of Ubuntu, we have deployed our young men and women together with much needed medical and humanitarian assistance to stop the spread of the disease and its far-reaching social, economic and political consequences in the region and the entire continent.

We will remain steadfast in our quest for peace and prosperity in an integrated continent.

Happy International Peace Day!

H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

Chairperson

African Union Commission

Categories: AFRICA

Sudan: One year after the September 2013 bloody repression victims still await truth and justice

PARIS, France, September 22, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Tomorrow, 23 September 2014, will mark the one year anniversary of the outbreak of demonstrations in cities throughout Sudan. These were sparked by the lifting of fuel subsidies the day before, and were met by Sudanese authorities with excessive force, including live ammunition, leading to the deaths of at least 185 people. Hundreds of people were detained, many without any charges ever being brought, and numerous activists were tortured and otherwise ill-treated. FIDH and ACJPS reiterate their call upon regional and international human rights bodies to condemn abuses and ensure investigation and justice.

On the anniversary of the brutal suppression of last year’s protests, the United Nations Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan will present his annual report to the Human Rights Council. In his report made public in advance of the session, the UN expert confirmed that the Sudanese authorities have failed to provide him with any “evidence of a thorough and independent investigation of the human rights violations that occurred during the September demonstrations” and highlighted that it is “unacceptable both morally and legally” that the Sudanese authorities reported “it was difficult to locate any of those who shot and killed so many people in broad daylight”.

“One year on, the victims and families affected by Sudan’s brutal suppression of protests are still denied truth and justice,” said Katherine Perks, Programme Director at the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS). “The UN Human Rights Council meeting this week must ensure it takes a strong position to condemn Sudan’s repeated failure to ensure accountability and redress serious human rights violations including torture and extra-judicial killings; impunity cannot be accepted”.

Although human rights groups verified 185 deaths, Sudanese authorities acknowledged just 85. A majority of death certificates issued listed cause of death as “mysterious circumstances”, despite a majority of victims having been shot in the head or chest. The mandate, composition and findings of three state commissions of inquiry reportedly established have never been made public, and repeated attempts to access them have been unsuccessful. Out of at least 85 criminal complaints pursued by victims’ families, only one has progressed to court, with the final decision pending.

FIDH and ACJPS have repeatedly called for the African regional human rights body, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), to send a fact-finding mission to investigate violations perpetrated in connection with the 2013 protests and call on the Government of Sudan to immediately stop further abuses. Such an inquiry could be organised in close coordination with the relevant UN bodies such as the Human Rights Council.

“Whilst Sudan bears the responsibility to stop its forces from committing abuses, deliver remedies and hold those responsible to account, international and regional human rights bodies must step up where Sudan has shown it clearly has no intention to do so,” declared Sheila Muwanga Nabachwa, FIDH Vice President and Deputy Executive Director at the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI – Uganda). “Time has come to put an end to the culture of impunity which prevails in Sudan. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, also meeting next month, should deploy a fact-finding mission mandated to investigate the repression and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice”.

The September 2013 violent repression of protests and the impunity enjoyed by those responsible illustrates a broader context of serious human rights violations in Sudan, where human rights defenders, independent journalists and political opponents who criticise the government and its actions continue to face arbitrary arrests and detentions, acts of harassment and intimidation and in some cases acts of torture and ill-treatment. In such a context, the ACHPR and the UN Human Rights council must take concrete actions to ensure that victims of serious human rights violations in Sudan obtain justice and reparations.

Background information

On 4 November 2013, Sudanese Justice Minister, Mohamed Bushara Dosa, stated to the pro-government newspaper Al Rayaam that 84 individuals had been killed and that an investigation into the killings had been opened. The official death toll later reported by authorities to the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan increased to 85, including one security officer. The compositions and mandates of the three committees of investigation reportedly established have never been made public, and repeated attempts to access them have been unsuccessful. In May 2014 the Deputy Minister of Justice later announced that there was no committee established to investigate the events, and that the “riots” would be investigated by the Attorney General.

Out of at least 85 criminal complaints filed by victims’ families, ACJPS is aware of only one that reached court. That concerned the killing of Dr. Sara Abdelbagi who was shot and killed outside her uncle’s home in the Aldorashab neighbourhood of Khartoum Bahri on 25 September 2013. Dr Sara Abdelbagi had joined friends and family members outside the home after hearing that her 15 year old cousin, Soheib Mohamed Musa, had been shot and killed at a demonstration. Several eye-witnesses reported seeing an army officer dressed in civilian attire fire two gunshots, one of which hit Dr Sara Abdelbagi in the side of her body. One eye-witness reported seeing him then apologise and say he did not mean to shoot her. The death certificate originally issued for Dr Sara Abdelbagi stated she died of mysterious causes. It was later changed to state that she died of gunshot wounds after her family opened an official complaint into the circumstances of her death at the local police station in Aldorashab. The army officer was arrested on 15 December 2013 and charged with murder under article 130 of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code. Court proceedings are ongoing. This is the only known case of immunity provisions in Sudanese law being lifted to allow for criminal proceedings against a state official accused of using excessive force during the 2013 protests.

The general human rights climate in Sudan continues to deteriorate amidst calls for a national dialogue; scores of activists, human rights defenders, and political opposition members have been arrested since January 2014, and dozens of newspapers, including traditionally pro-government newspapers, have been subjected to post-print censorship.

Categories: AFRICA

Sudan: One year after the September 2013 bloody repression victims still await truth and justice

PARIS, France, September 22, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Tomorrow, 23 September 2014, will mark the one year anniversary of the outbreak of demonstrations in cities throughout Sudan. These were sparked by the lifting of fuel subsidies the day before, and were met by Sudanese authorities with excessive force, including live ammunition, leading to the deaths of at least 185 people. Hundreds of people were detained, many without any charges ever being brought, and numerous activists were tortured and otherwise ill-treated. FIDH and ACJPS reiterate their call upon regional and international human rights bodies to condemn abuses and ensure investigation and justice.

On the anniversary of the brutal suppression of last year’s protests, the United Nations Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan will present his annual report to the Human Rights Council. In his report made public in advance of the session, the UN expert confirmed that the Sudanese authorities have failed to provide him with any “evidence of a thorough and independent investigation of the human rights violations that occurred during the September demonstrations” and highlighted that it is “unacceptable both morally and legally” that the Sudanese authorities reported “it was difficult to locate any of those who shot and killed so many people in broad daylight”.

“One year on, the victims and families affected by Sudan’s brutal suppression of protests are still denied truth and justice,” said Katherine Perks, Programme Director at the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS). “The UN Human Rights Council meeting this week must ensure it takes a strong position to condemn Sudan’s repeated failure to ensure accountability and redress serious human rights violations including torture and extra-judicial killings; impunity cannot be accepted”.

Although human rights groups verified 185 deaths, Sudanese authorities acknowledged just 85. A majority of death certificates issued listed cause of death as “mysterious circumstances”, despite a majority of victims having been shot in the head or chest. The mandate, composition and findings of three state commissions of inquiry reportedly established have never been made public, and repeated attempts to access them have been unsuccessful. Out of at least 85 criminal complaints pursued by victims’ families, only one has progressed to court, with the final decision pending.

FIDH and ACJPS have repeatedly called for the African regional human rights body, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), to send a fact-finding mission to investigate violations perpetrated in connection with the 2013 protests and call on the Government of Sudan to immediately stop further abuses. Such an inquiry could be organised in close coordination with the relevant UN bodies such as the Human Rights Council.

“Whilst Sudan bears the responsibility to stop its forces from committing abuses, deliver remedies and hold those responsible to account, international and regional human rights bodies must step up where Sudan has shown it clearly has no intention to do so,” declared Sheila Muwanga Nabachwa, FIDH Vice President and Deputy Executive Director at the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI – Uganda). “Time has come to put an end to the culture of impunity which prevails in Sudan. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, also meeting next month, should deploy a fact-finding mission mandated to investigate the repression and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice”.

The September 2013 violent repression of protests and the impunity enjoyed by those responsible illustrates a broader context of serious human rights violations in Sudan, where human rights defenders, independent journalists and political opponents who criticise the government and its actions continue to face arbitrary arrests and detentions, acts of harassment and intimidation and in some cases acts of torture and ill-treatment. In such a context, the ACHPR and the UN Human Rights council must take concrete actions to ensure that victims of serious human rights violations in Sudan obtain justice and reparations.

Background information

On 4 November 2013, Sudanese Justice Minister, Mohamed Bushara Dosa, stated to the pro-government newspaper Al Rayaam that 84 individuals had been killed and that an investigation into the killings had been opened. The official death toll later reported by authorities to the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan increased to 85, including one security officer. The compositions and mandates of the three committees of investigation reportedly established have never been made public, and repeated attempts to access them have been unsuccessful. In May 2014 the Deputy Minister of Justice later announced that there was no committee established to investigate the events, and that the “riots” would be investigated by the Attorney General.

Out of at least 85 criminal complaints filed by victims’ families, ACJPS is aware of only one that reached court. That concerned the killing of Dr. Sara Abdelbagi who was shot and killed outside her uncle’s home in the Aldorashab neighbourhood of Khartoum Bahri on 25 September 2013. Dr Sara Abdelbagi had joined friends and family members outside the home after hearing that her 15 year old cousin, Soheib Mohamed Musa, had been shot and killed at a demonstration. Several eye-witnesses reported seeing an army officer dressed in civilian attire fire two gunshots, one of which hit Dr Sara Abdelbagi in the side of her body. One eye-witness reported seeing him then apologise and say he did not mean to shoot her. The death certificate originally issued for Dr Sara Abdelbagi stated she died of mysterious causes. It was later changed to state that she died of gunshot wounds after her family opened an official complaint into the circumstances of her death at the local police station in Aldorashab. The army officer was arrested on 15 December 2013 and charged with murder under article 130 of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code. Court proceedings are ongoing. This is the only known case of immunity provisions in Sudanese law being lifted to allow for criminal proceedings against a state official accused of using excessive force during the 2013 protests.

The general human rights climate in Sudan continues to deteriorate amidst calls for a national dialogue; scores of activists, human rights defenders, and political opposition members have been arrested since January 2014, and dozens of newspapers, including traditionally pro-government newspapers, have been subjected to post-print censorship.

Categories: AFRICA