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ASSIST News Service (ANS)

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Human Rights Group Welcomes Legislation to Combat Slavery in Sudan

By Jeremy Reynalds

Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

WASHINGTON D.C. (ANS) — Legislation introduced last week by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) to combat slavery in Sudan was welcomed by human rights group Christian Solidarity International.

If it becomes law, Smith’s bill — The Eradication of Slavery in Sudan Act of 2006 (H.R. 5911) — will create a commission of independent persons to investigate progress in the eradication of slavery in Sudan and make policy recommendations to the U.S. government.

In a news release from Christian Solidarity International (CSI), the group’s U.S. Executive Director Dr. John Eibner said, “CSI congratulates Congressman Chris Smith on launching this important anti-slavery legislative initiative and urges both Houses of Congress to present it quickly to President Bush for signing. This legislation will enhance the prospects of freedom for all Black African slaves in Sudan , and of peace for all peoples of that war-torn country.

President Bush cited the enslavement of Black African women and children as one of the major reasons for launching his Sudan peace initiative in Sept. 2001.

The President’s Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan , the now retired Sen. John Danforth, also identified the eradication of slavery as one of the pre-conditions for a just and lasting peace in Sudan . However, the news release from CSI stated that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in Jan. 2005 by Sudan ‘s President Omer Bashir and the Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the late Col. John Garang, “failed to address this internationally recognized ‘crime against humanity.’”

Tens of thousands of Black African women and children remain in bondage in Sudan more than 18 months after the signing of the CPA, CSI stated. Most of Sudan ‘s slaves were captured in Southern Sudan “in the context of Khartoum ‘s openly declared jihad against Black African communities.”

A spokesman for CSI commenting in the group’s news release said, “The continuing enslavement of tens of thousands of Black Africans from Southern Sudan and Darfur is an open sore that poisons efforts to reconcile Khartoum’s National Islamic Front – dominated government with Black African communities in Southern and Western Sudan.”

Earlier this year, the CSI news release stated, President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir declared that the retrieval of Southern Sudanese slaves was a part of the Southern Government’s program. Last Nov. a Southern Minister in the Government of National Unity called for the reform of Khartoum ‘s showcase committee for the eradication of the Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC) to make it an effective instrument for liberating slaves.

“But despite the initiatives of these two Southern Sudanese statesmen,” CSI stated, “President Bashir has suspended funding for CEAWC’s slave retrievals.”

CSI has been involved in the liberation of Sudanese slaves since 1995, and first called for the establishment of an independent U.S. commission to monitor the eradication of slavery in Sudan over two years ago.