Sudan's agreement to permit the deployment of the African Union - United Nations (AU-UN) hybrid force is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to ensure that civilians are protected from human rights and humanitarian law violations committed by belligerents fighting in Darfur.
While it is a positive development, Amnesty International considers that an agreement on paper will not protect the people of Darfur. All parties to the conflict need to immediately halt attacks on civilians, including the use of rape, torture, pillaging and mass forced displacement as weapons of war.
Amnesty International calls on the government of Sudan to ensure that it puts in place measures to protect all civilians affected by conflict, including disarming the Janjawid militia.
Following the agreement, Amnesty International especially calls on the government of Sudan to ensure that it facilitates the expeditious deployment of the hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force to Darfur.
The organisation also calls upon the UN, AU, and government of Sudan to adopt a clear timeline for the deployment of the hybrid peacekeeping force. The organisation urges the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council to adopt as soon as possible the necessary resolutions providing the hybrid force with a strong mandate and sufficient resources to protect civilians. In particular, the resolutions should among other things ensure that the hybrid force has:
- the capacity to use all necessary means, in full compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law, to protect effectively and proactively, civilians at risk;
- a strong human rights component with the mandate and capacity to monitor, investigate and publicly report on all human rights abuses, including all cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence;
- a mandate to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), in particular regarding the arrest and surrender of the Sudanese suspects against whom the ICC has issued warrants.;
- has the mandate and capacity to oversee the disarmament and demobilization of the government-supported Janjawid militia and of armed opposition groups;
- a mandate and the necessary resources to put in place strong and effective measures in order to deter and prevent Janjawid and armed opposition groups cross-border incursions into Chad.
More than 200,000 people have died in the four-year conflict in Darfur and more than 2 million have been displaced from their homes. In 2007 murder, rape, pillage and mass forced displacement continue to be used as weapons of war by Janjawid militias, supported by the Sudanese government, along with Sudanese armed forces. Armed opposition groups have also been responsible for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
On 30 November 2006, the AU Peace and Security Council, supported by the UN, endorsed a three-phase plan that would include the establishment of a hybrid UN-AU operation. Despite its acceptance, and until this reported agreement on the deployment of the force, the government of Sudan had consistently frustrated the deployment of the hybrid AU-UN force.