Amnesty warns rights violations surrounding Sudan vote

January 8, 2011 12:00 am

, JUBA, Sudan, Jan 8- A global Non Governmental Organization on Saturday warned of the looming human rights violations surrounding Sunday’s historic referendum in Southern Sudan.

Amnesty international said it was concerned with discrimination issues that might crop up in both regions if the south voted in favour of secession.

The NGO which recently concluded its visit to Juba argued that the respect and promotion of human rights would be vital to the success of the country’s vote.

“If people are not to be permitted to hold nationality or citizenship of both countries, they should be able to make their own choice as to which nationality or citizenship they will take,” a statement from the NGO said in part.

It said Amnesty is also concerned that the human rights violations that were recorded in Darfur will be forgotten as the world turns its attention to tomorrow’s referendum.

Through a team of three delegates, Amnesty international further proposed that the Sudanese people be allowed to hold citizenship of both regions or have the right to choose the region whose citizenship they wanted.

They highlighted the possible discrimination of any southerners who might want to live in the north after the vote as well as that against any northerners that might want to live in the south.

“The governments of north and south Sudan to ensure that all allegations of human rights violations are promptly and effectively investigated by an independent and impartial authority and their perpetrators held accountable,” they said.

Amnesty International also asked the governments of the two states to create an effective system for registering and dealing with complaints about any human rights violations. 

“Effective avenues to complain about intimidation or other abuses and clarity on ways in which to report these abuses together with adequate public awareness of these avenues must be created,” said the NGO.

Various local and international bodies have also raised concerns over the transition period that will follow Sunday’s vote outcome.

Some quarters are concerned with the issues surrounding distribution of wealth and the demarcation of the boundaries.

On Friday, Oxfam International noted that the south would have to be built from scratch. It argued that the widespread poverty and lack of infrastructure would slow down the region’s development.

“The chronic poverty, lack of development and the threat of violence that affect people’s daily lives will not disappear after the referendum. Whatever the outcome of the vote, these long-term issues need to be addressed. Failure to do so risks undoing any progress made in the past few years,” said Melinda Young, head of Oxfam in Southern Sudan.

The NGO also claimed that tens of thousands of southerners have arrived from the north in recent months placing a significant strain on communities that already lack water, food, sanitation and shelter.

“With a young population, abundant resources and fertile land, southern Sudan has the potential to build a successful nation – but only if it receives the support it needs. The world has to help them fulfill their hopes and aspirations,” Ms Young noted.

Reports indicate that 80 percent of the country’s oil reserves are located in the southern part of Sudan and some observers fear that the north might resist the split because of losing out on the revenue brought in by oil.

Some reports claim that if the south secedes, the north might lose billions of oil dollars yearly.

The country’s external debt stands at Sh2.9 trillion.


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