Following up reports that individuals who met with members of the United Nations Security Council during their visit to Sudan have been harassed and detained by Sudanese intelligence services, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said she has “yet to receive any information that alleviates our deep concern over this issue.”
In a statement issued this week, Ambassador Rice said that the United States “strongly condemns” the alleged targeting of Darfuris who spoke to Security Council members. Rice offered this description of the U.S. response to the reports:
Since learning of the detentions and reported intimidation, we have been actively working through various channels – through direct communication with the Sudanese, through the U.S. Embassy, through the UN, and in conjunction with other Security Council Member States, to establish the facts and ensure the safety of all who interacted with the Security Council during our visit. The U.S. and the UK asked the UN to address this issue in today's UN Security Council briefing so that the full Council could hear directly from UN officials about this matter.
As we mentioned last week, advocacy groups have followed the story of the harassment and arrests with concern and sent a letter to Ambassador Rice and U.K. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant urging them to take steps to ensure the safety of individuals who took personal risks to share information with the U.N. delegation. Rice’s public statement is a reassuring sign that a concerted effort is indeed underway to ensure no further harm comes to them. (From Ambassador Rice, a longtime and vocal advocate for human rights in Sudan, we would expect nothing less.) But it is alarming that these high-level efforts have yet to produce news of their release. It will be an important story to keep an eye on, which we will continue to do.
Photo: Children in an IDP camp in Darfur (AP)