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U.S. Congressmen call to link normalization with Sudan to freedoms and human rights

Congressman James McGovern
March 28, 2018 (WASHINGTON) - A bipartisan group of U.S. Congressmen has called on Trump Administration to not normalize relations with the Sudanese government before to restore freedoms and human rights, stop corruption and support to extremist groups.

Addressed to John Sullivan Deputy Secretary of State, the letter was signed by 57 members of Congress including James Mc Govern, Randy Hultgren, Michael Capuano, Barbara Comstock and Thomas Rooney.

“We are gravely concerned about any U.S. policy that might result in further normalizing relations with a regime that routinely violates its citizens’ basic human rights, continues to support extremists and extremist groups, represses religious minorities, and steals the nation’s wealth while most of its people live in poverty,” reads the letter seen by Sudan Tribune.

Last October, President Trump decided to cancel the 20-year economic embargo on Sudan but the east African country is still on the states sponsors of terrorism list.

The two countries are preparing to meet soon to discuss ways to reach an agreement paving the way for the full normalization of bilateral relations and Sudan’s removal from the terror list.

The lawmakers advised the State Department to develop a policy that brings Khartoum to address its failure of good governance and encourage the government to ensure freedoms. Also, they expressed readiness to work with Trump Administration to in this respect.

"We urge the State Department and other appropriate agencies to develop transformational human rights and social and political benchmarks," said the lawmakers.

"These should be tied to real incentives, combined with meaningful new financial pressures, such as network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures that target those most responsible for violence and corruption in Sudan," they stressed.

The anti-atrocity policy group, Enough Project, issued a statement backing the U.S. legislators adding they have the expertise to call for a Sudan policy that brings a fundamental change in the governance of the country.

"Congressional leaders have demonstrated that they will raise their voices to ensure the United States is holding true to its values and refusing to normalize relations with a country that continues to suppress religious minorities, jail political opponents, and obstruct humanitarian assistance,” said Ian Schwab, Director of Advocacy and Impact Strategy at the Enough Project.

For his part, Omer Ismail, Senior Policy Advisor at the Enough Project pointed that “The Sudanese regime continues to support extremists and terrorize its population. At a time of grave economic instability in Sudan brought on by the regime’s rampant corruption and security expenditures, I applaud congressional leaders for continuing to advocate for a Sudan that respects all of its people.”

During a visit to Sudan last November, Sullivan made it clear that the removal from the terror list is linked to the issues of freedoms in Sudan and the end of the war.

"Supporting human rights, including religious freedom, has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of the United States’ bilateral engagement with Sudan," Sullivan said in a speech delivered during his visit to Khartoum.

(ST)