October 31, 2005
Congressman Mike Capuano (D-MA), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Sudan wrote to Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, requesting an explanation of the U.S. policy towards Sudan in the wake of a number of troubling developments. [Read a PDF of the letter]
105 members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, joined Rep. Capuano in requesting these critical clarifications.
"Congress and President Bush have long ago declared that the atrocities occurring in Sudan constitute genocide, yet our government has not taken strong and decisive action, even as the violence worsens in Darfur," stated Congressman Capuano.
Congressman Capuano and his colleagues expressed alarm at what appears to be a shift in U.S. policy toward Sudan. "Rather than hold accountable a regime that the President, former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and the Congress declared guilty of genocide, we appear to be engaged in a policy of appeasement," the lawmakers wrote.
Federal lawmakers outlined three areas of significant concern:
Hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons risk genocide by attrition as the security situation deteriorates.
The delay in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is equally troubling. The Government of Sudan has yet to establish key commissions, including the Assessment and Evaluation Commission and the North-South Boundary Commission.
The government of Sudan, including people in power when over 400,000 civilians were killed, was granted a waiver by the State Department to hire a U.S. lobbyist for $530,000. Their responsibilities include assisting the government of Sudan with an image-boosting public relations campaign.
Further evidence of a shift in U.S. policy comes in the recent report that Sudan's Trafficking in Persons status was upgraded from a Tier III to a Tier II watch-list country, despite the fact that there is no evidence to justify this upgrade. With this change, Sudan was placed in the same category as Tier II democratic countries like Switzerland and Israel.
"Only this past January the UN Commission of Inquiry released a report on Darfur in which it documented cases of Sudanese troops involved in abductions and sexual slavery. On what grounds, then, was Sudan upgraded? What "significant efforts" were made? And for what purpose was Sudan's Trafficking in Persons status elevated?" the lawmakers wrote.
"The United States has declared that the atrocities in Darfur constitute genocide. Any actions that appear to be inconsistent with that declaration are concerning and we expect clarification from Secretary Rice on U.S. policy," stated Congressman Capuano.
Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208