Don't Ignore the Dire Human Rights Situation in Sudan

This posting is part of the Sudan Referendum Watch series

While many observers are optimistic that the referendum in South Sudan this Sunday will go ahead peacefully, the last few months do not bode well for the future human rights situation in the country (no matter what the outcome of the referendum will be).

Thousands have been displaced by the government’s military offensive in Darfur, while the international community’s attention is focused on preparations for the referendum and the negotiation of a peace agreement for Darfur.  Since December 2010, more than 20,000 people in Darfur have been displaced during attacks by the Khartoum government’s attacks on various parts of North and South Darfur, including camps for the displaced in Dar Al Salam, Shangil Tobaya and Khor Abeche. The international community shouldn’t repeat its mistakes from 2004 and 2005, when focus on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) led to an ignorance (and acceptance) of grave crimes committed in Darfur.

The April 2010 elections were marked by human rights violations and threats to freedom of expression in both the south and north of the country and  we remain concerned that such violations would occur again during or after the referendum.

Human rights should be at the heart of this coming referendum. The governments of unity and of south Sudan should make it clear that human rights violations will not be tolerated. The respect, protection and promotion of human rights in Sudan are vital to the success of this historic vote.

An Amnesty International delegation recently returned from Juba in southern Sudan where it assessed the human rights situation ahead of the referendum. To get detailed information about our human rights concerns in Sudan, please take a look at some of our resources:

For an interesting non-AI resource, don’t forget to follow the Sudan Vote Monitor (SVM), which was launched today. SVM is a Sudanese civil society initiative to monitor the referendum and is based on the powerful Ushahidi plattform.

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.