Protection of the civilian population, including IDPs
Written information submitted to the group of experts on Darfur on 21 August 2007
Draft orders to the armed forces were prepared prohibiting all kinds of attacks on civilians, including torture and violence against women, and stipulating that perpetrators of criminal offences will have their immunity waived and will be brought to justice. The draft was reviewed by the Advisory Council for Human Rights and was submitted for signature to the armed forces command.
A new Armed Forces Bill was approved by the Cabinet. It contains an entire chapter on the principles of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and civilian objects. It makes no distinction between protection during international conflicts and protection during internal conflicts. It also includes provisions on individual liability and the prosecution of persons who commit abuses.
The National Committee on International Humanitarian Law, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (Sudan), has set up a foundation course on the principles of international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and individual liability. The course is designed for the joint integrated units formed pursuant to the Machakos agreement and the Interim Constitution and 30 officers are to receive training at the joint forces’ headquarters on 26 29 August 2007.
^ 18 September 2007
The Armed Forces Bill will be discussed in parliament when it resumes its session in October. The army commander has established a committee to create a work plan to implement the Armed Forces Act. On 16 September it was agreed that DG Operational Unit would issue directives informing personnel about the new Act and its content.
It was reported that airplanes are used only for reconnaissance purposes. However, by order of the Minister of Defense, the planes may be used to bomb rebels in exceptional circumstances. The Government is fully aware of its duty to defend civilians in all areas. Commanders and officers are informed that they should abide by international law. In case of collateral damage, there is a committee that investigates the incident, and those affected civilians will be compensated. Concerning allegations of bombardments of Adila, it was attacked by rebels and the Air Force reacted to protect the civilian population. Bombardment did take place, but only against rebels.
Immunities for members of the armed forces reportedly had been lifted on several occasions. On 18 February 2006, the Western Darfur Court convicted one member of the Popular Defense Forces for torture, and the Supreme Court confirmed the verdict. The Government has compiled statistics on compensation paid for harm to civilians.
On 30 October 2007, the group of experts received a copy of a Declaration of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) concerning the regulation and rules of conduct of armed forces personnel in conflict zones, which the Government indicated has been circulated to all units of the SAF. The group also received a letter from the Representative of the Ministry of Defence, in the National Experts Group, dated 29 October 2007 (Serial No. R1M/1GH/1/86) which refers to a directive on the Code of Conduct of the Armed Forces during Armed Conflicts. The Directive was issued by the Headquarters of the Army Joint Operations Unit and disseminated to the following units of the army for implementation:
The Code of Conduct, issued by Brig. Mohamed Mahmoud Gami, Head of the Joint Military Operations Units provides that:
1. All members of the international community are organized under the umbrella of the UN and all its members are bound by its rules and conventions. Islam and Quran dictate that all such conventions and charters must be honoured by all Islamic countries.
2. Sudan has ratified the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Additional Protocols. These conventions provide protection for the civilian populations and those rendered hors de combat by surrender. It urges for humane treatment for the prisoners and the obligation to provide care for the sick and the wounded. They also call for avoiding brutality during armed hostilities, particularly if this does not realize the war objective, such as the killing of prisoners or the wounded or attacking women and children.
3. The above are International Humanitarian Law Principles which represent the same principles of International Islamic Law prohibit attacking non combatant, killing of prisoners, fighting the wounded, the use of excessive force when attacking and the armed hostilities shall only be confined to combatants and that life, property and freedoms shall be spared unless involved in fighting. Such a law also calls for justice, mercy and noble virtues, avoiding and humane treatment. Even the right of resorting to war when attacked in situations of international armed conflicts is restricted in Islam by noble virtues and the respect for humanity which enshrined in Quran and Suna and the sayings of the Caliphes as fundamental principles.
4. Christianity is also based on the idea of ‘pure peace’ and prohibition of killing and warning on killing people. The four versions of the bile are unanimous call for love to your enemy and to treat humanely those who hate you. We may argue that modern Christian jurisprudence strictly calls for control or supervision of the means of war and that its objectives must realize securing justice and treatment of injustice and that war shall be a just war and conducted through a just means.
5. According to the above, we conclude that the principles of International Humanitarian Law constitutes (in terms of content and substance) an integral part of the beliefs of the people of the Sudan. Therefore, the Draft Bill of the Armed Forces, which was referred to the National Assembly by the Council of Ministers, includes a whole Chapter to the Law of War and provides a detailed provisions for the crimes which contravene this law such as killing of civilians, torture, unlawful detention, forced disappearance, all types of violence against women and attacking international humanitarian organizations.
6. The responsibility of stopping humanitarian law violations falls on the military commanders and any military leader, within his area of responsibility, must ensure that the law is applied and shall personally make sure that all persons under his responsibility are aware of their responsibility under the law. During conducting the military operations, all persons shall avoid hurting the civilian populations and also civilian objects unless they become military objectives. All the necessary precautions shall be taken reparations shall be provided for mistakes committed. All types of attacks against women shall be prohibited. Also, civilians who are participating in the hostilities shall not be subject to attack, killing, torture and detention. Those civilians who engage in hostile actions shall be confined and restricted to certain areas and shall not be exposed to inhumane treatment. Humanitarian workers and organizations providing aid shall be protected.
7. We expect that military commanders at all levels to be obliged by the above directives. They should also be aware that there is no immunity for those who are subject to the Armed Forces Act in case they violate any of the above provisions of the law of armed conflict mentioned above.