Sudan: The Best Monitored Crisis in History?

This posting is part of the Sudan Referendum Watch series

No matter how uncertain the weeks following the referendum will be for Sudan, one thing is guaranteed: The situation in South Sudan is the best monitored and documented potential human rights crisis in history, with no shortage of comparisons to Rwanda and similar human rights catastrophes. What is different this time around is the fact that there is also no shortage of new monitoring tools to record – and potentially deter – human rights abuses.

Geography of Risk

For download of the background briefing, click on the image (pdf, 5.5 MB).

We have just put out a background briefing called “Geography of Risk” (pdf) that provides a series of maps to give a better context of the situation on the ground and to visualize some of the issues that we are concerned about (e.g. attacks against civilians). You can download all maps for use in your own advocacy and campaigning work about human rights in Sudan. This is only a small contribution to document the human rights situation in the

Heat map of attacks against civilians in South Sudan. © Amnesty International USA. Data source: CRMA/UNDP.

run-up to the referendum and we will continue to monitor the situation closely over the next months. Our ongoing concerns include abuses in both the north and south of the country; and don’t forget that there is still an active conflict going on in Darfur, a topic the public seems to have forgotten recently.


Mapping CIA Black Sites

AGM Countdown: In the run up to Amnesty International’s Annual General Meeting in New Orleans this weekend, the Science for Human Rights program will be posting a new blog entry every day this week. All of the projects presented this week—and many more—will be at display in New Orleans.

In its most extensive study of secret detention practices to date, the UN released a 222-page report on the practice of secret detention in dozens of countries. The report was to be presented to the Human Rights Council in March but the Council has agreed to postpone the discussion until June. The detailed study conducted by four independent UN human rights experts accuses the Bush administration of utilizing practices in severe violation of international law.

Map of US secret detention facilities, based on information provided by a recent UN Human Rights Council report. (c) Amnesty International. Producend by AAAS. CLICK TO SEE FULL MAP

Map of US secret detention facilities, based on information provided by a recent UN Human Rights Council report. (c) Amnesty International. Produced by AAAS. CLICK TO SEE FULL MAP

Following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. began to limit and remove mechanisms protecting human rights in the context of the Global War on Terror. Lumping the United States with the likes of Stalin and Pinochet, the study cites the U.S. practices as an “unprecedented departure” from established international humanitarian and human rights law, specifically pointing to the Geneva Convention.

The report focuses on the CIA run secret detention facilities and the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on high value detainees.  While the U.S. has generally refused to disclose the locations of these facilities, the specifics have slowly leaked out.  The study found evidence confirming CIA “black sites” in 20 locations around the world, including Thailand, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Kosovo.

During the operation of these sites, the U.S. used secret flight plans, charter aircraft and subcontracting agreements to remove evidence of U.S. government involvement. Individual case reports have begun to fill in the missing details of the locations and use of enhanced interrogation techniques at these secret detention sites. Amnesty International has created a visual representation of the UN study mapping the locations of the reported secret detention sites.

Shahna Esber contributed  to this blog.