Torture, killing of peaceful protestors, and imposition of a State of Emergency should be major red flags for multinational company investments
Washington, D.C. – In response to widespread peaceful protests across the country, on Friday, February 21, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir imposed a year-long State of Emergency, dissolving the federal and state governments and replacing state governors with military generals. As the Sudanese people rise up and speak out against decades of massive corruption, economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, and mass atrocities, the Bashir regime has responded with a brutal crackdown, including the torture and killing of peaceful protestors.
In the context of the government’s violent and unwarranted attacks on its own people, The Enough Project expresses its deep concern about two recent meetings involving the U.S. government related to American investment in Sudan. In Addis Ababa, the Sudanese Foreign Minister was invited to participate in the U.S.-Africa Forum on Trade and Investment on February 12. In Khartoum, the Chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Sudanon Thursday Feb. 7th with a U.S. business representative from Baker Hughes, an oil field services company majority owned by General Electric to discuss investment opportunities in Sudan in the energy, mining, and infrastructure sectors.
John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry, commented, “The United States has a unique role to play in support of a peaceful transition away from thirty years of dictatorship and grand corruption in Sudan. At a moment when mass protests are demanding change, it is unfortunate that the U.S. is contributing to a public perception that investment in oil, mining, and other sectors in Sudan is appropriate, which would only reinforce the kleptocratic system and not benefit the Sudanese people. Instead of highlighting that Sudan offers ‘U.S. investment opportunities in energy, mining, and infrastructure sectors,’ a policy response addressing the government’s deep-seated corruption and its brutal crackdowns should be the focus for any U.S. engagement with the regime. It is extremely problematic to be encouraging investment in a country where a thirty-year dictatorship is being challenged by large, peaceful protests throughout the country, and while that regime is killing, arresting, and torturing those protesters. U.S. embassy officials certainly must do their jobs and meet with Americans and American businesses who come through Khartoum, but we believe investments that would reinforce the kleptocratic dictatorship would be counter-productive and should be strongly discouraged. Furthermore, Baker Hughes and its parent company General Electric should understand the negative impact of any planned investment in these strategic sectors at this critical moment. Within numerous mandatory and voluntary frameworks which the United States supports, U.S. businesses are expected to implement due diligence and transparency measures to ensure their operations do not violate internationally-recognized human rights standards.”
Suliman Baldo, Senior Advisor to the Enough Project noted, “The regime’s use of excessive force and daily torture of hundreds of detainees as well as the sexual harassment and beatings of female detainees by security agents must qualify as a serious breach of the commitments the regime undertook in accepting the six track engagement roadmap with the U.S. aimed at removing Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terror List. Forging ahead with the process as bilaterally agreed to last November strengthens the hands of Sudan’s kleptocratic dictatorship against its own people. The United States should stand firmly on the side of Sudan’s peaceful protesters.”
, while private sector investment in Sudan will be vital to long-term economic stability in the country, any investment should only be conducted in partnership with the Sudanese people and when adherence to due diligence and transparency frameworks can be clearly demonstrated and closely monitored.