June 12, 2003 -- Today Rep. Michael Capuano's (D-MA) resolution condemning slavery and other violations of human rights in Sudan passed the House International Relations Committee by unanimous consent. It is now eligible for consideration by the full House.
"This issue has taken on new urgency because of the recent United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) vote on Sudan, refusing to take action on its horrendous human rights record. This is unacceptable and the United States Congress should be on record saying so," stated Rep. Capuano.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights conducted its 59th session in Geneva in April. Sudan had been designated an "Item 9" country, one with rights violations so outrageous that an official, a Special Rapporteur, was required to investigate abuses and report annually to the U.N. General Assembly. This year, by a vote of 26 to 24 with 3 abstentions, the UNCHR changed the status of Sudan, making the country eligible for UN aid and technical assistance without requiring them to address gross violations of human rights.
"The State Department reports that between 5,000 and 15,000 women and children have been abducted by the Sudanese government during the past fifteen years and thousands remain in captivity. Many have been sold into slavery, sent to manual labor camps and many, including children, have been forced to serve as soldiers. Sudanese troops continue to abduct civilians and nearly 2 million people have died as a result of the Sudanese government's attempts to subjugate the southern Sudanese. There is absolutely no basis for upgrading the status of Sudan in the United Nations," stated Rep. Capuano.
The resolution was amended in the Subcommittee on Africa to reflect the vote of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. It directs the United States to work on reclassifying Sudan as an "Item 9" country. It also calls on the United States to make clear to all members of the UN Commission that "the refusal to condemn slavery in Sudan undermines any moral authority that the Commission might seek to assert in other areas," and to encourage the United Nations to consider reinstating sanctions against Sudan.
Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208