Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Keep Up Pressure on Sudan

iAbolish reports that the Bush administration has upgraded Sudan's status to Tier II on the Trafficking in Persons report:

In a recent decision, President Bush and the State Department elevated Sudan’s status on the Trafficking in Persons Report from Tier III (the lowest possible ranking), to Tier II. Despite continued government support and orchestration of slave raids, Sudan now shares the ranking with countries such as Switzerland, Chile, Hungary, and Greece.

Although the State Department justifies this decision by citing “significant efforts” on the part of the Sudanese government to comply with United States anti-trafficking legislation, human rights activists challenge this determination, claiming that the meager proof offered by the State Department does not amount to “significant efforts.”
They have an on-line petition here where interested parties can sign the following letter to Secretary Rice:
Dear Madam Secretary,

I write regarding Presidential Determination, No. 2005-37, dated September 21, 2005, to elevate Sudan's slavery status from Tier III to Tier II of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.

Although I greatly appreciate the personal attention you devote to ending the genocide in Sudan and admire the courage you demonstrated while visiting dangerous camps in Darfur, I am very concerned about the recent decision to elevate Sudan's status to Tier II of the TIP Report, the same level as Switzerland, Finland, Israel, Greece, Hungary and Chile.

The Memorandum of Justification accompanying the Presidential Determination states:

"The Government of Sudan does not yet fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance. This is the standard for placement in Tier II of the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report. The Secretary of State has placed Sudan on the Special Watch List because the determination that the Government of Sudan is making significant efforts is based on commitments by the country to take additional steps over the next year."

This decision is fundamentally flawed. The available evidence from the UN points to the Government of Sudan's continuing involvement in crimes against humanity, including "abductions and sexual slavery." In conclusion, I recommend the immediate reversal of the flawed decision.

The establishment of a new coalition government in Khartoum presents fresh opportunities for the eradication of slavery. We therefore urge you to liase with Sudan's new First Vice-President and regional President of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir - whose own relatives and community number among the victims of slavery - to find a credible approach to terminating, for all time, the horrors of state-sponsored slavery in Sudan.

I stand behind you, Madam Secretary, as you work to bring peace to Sudan. But I feel obliged to remind you that lasting peace can only be based on truth and justice. Peace in Sudan will never be secure as long as the interests of the slaves and other victims of terror are sacrificed for certain foreign policy objectives, such as preserving the unity of the Islamist-dominated Sudanese state and gaining the cooperation of that officially designated "terrorist" state as a partner in counter-terrorism.

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