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02 March 2005

New Senate Bill Would Step Up Pressure on Genocide in Darfur

Darfur Accountability Act would raise sanctions, support for African Union

By Matthew Pritchard
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – In a continuing effort to bring pressure to bear against the Sudanese government to stop the ongoing violence in Darfur, two U.S. senators introduced a bill March 2, the Darfur Accountability Act, that would renew U.S. and multilateral sanctions against those responsible for the atrocities.

Senators Jon Corzine (Democrat of New Jersey) and Sam Brownback (Republican of Kansas) put forward the bill as a follow-up to a resolution they pushed through the Senate in July 2004.  That measure declared the atrocities in Darfur to be genocide and called for appropriate diplomatic action, including sanctions.  The House of Representatives and former Secretary of State Colin Powell drew the same conclusions about the region.

Despite public outcry and months of sanctions against the Sudanese government for its support for the Jingaweit militias, Corzine said, the atrocities in Darfur have continued.

This ongoing violence and genocide in Darfur, he said, "is really, at least from my perspective, probably the single largest moral challenge of our time.  It is absolutely essential that we respond to it."

Citing a report released by the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch that documented "new accounts of rapes, torture and mutilation," Corzine related how "eyewitnesses told investigators that in December and January, government-backed Jingaweit militia attacked villages in an area of Darfur called Labado and singled out young women and girls for rape."

The United Nations recently announced that even though atrocities are taking place in Darfur, they do not formally consider it genocide.

But to Senator Brownback, "there is no longer any excuse.  We must call this what it is, and we must act to prevent any further pillaging and death."

When Senator Corzine visited Darfur in August 2004, he noted that the threat of sanctions against the Sudanese government was having an effect in Khartoum.  However, he said, since that time the United Nations has not followed through on imposing sanctions and the situation in the region has only gotten worse.

"It is time for us to send a different signal to Khartoum," Corzine said.  "Sanctions should be applied now.  We need to keep the pressure on the government of Sudan."

In addition to applying U.N. sanctions and reiterating that the events in Darfur constitute genocide, the bill calls for an extension of the arms embargo to include the Sudanese government and for faster assistance to the understaffed African Union (AU) military force that is trying to maintain peace in the region.

In September 2004, Corzine, along with Senator Michael DeWine (Republican of Ohio), helped secure passage of an amendment that provides $75 million to assist AU peacekeepers.  Although the money has been allocated, it has yet to be distributed.  The new bill, Corzine said, would help to accelerate the process.

"We need to get troops on the ground now," Corzine said.  "We need to get assistance to the AU now.  If they need better equipment, better transportation, technical assistance, or intelligence, then that should be provided."

The Darfur Accountability Act has bipartisan support.  Democratic senators Christopher Dodd and Joseph Lieberman, both of Connecticut, Richard Durbin (Illinois), and Russ Feingold (Wisconsin) were joined by Republicans Jim Talent (Missouri) and DeWine (Ohio) as co-sponsors of the bill with Corzine and Brownback.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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