In September 2019, PEJ, in partnership with the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), filed a criminal complaint in France on behalf of nine Sudanese victims against French bank, BNP Paribas, S.A., for alleged complicity in torture, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed during the height of the conflict in Darfur. The bank provided financial services to the government of Sudan while knowing the government targeted innocent civilians and committed torture, murder, sexual violence, and other crimes. PEJ and FIDH have built the case against the bank over the past two years and will continue to support the victims in their pursuit of justice and accountability in France. In the complaint, we called on the French authorities to open a formal investigation into the bank’s alleged complicity.
In recent years, the number of foreigners traveling to Cambodia to sexually abuse and exploit children has increased. PEJ, Liberty Shared’s Legal Impact Hub, and a pro bono law firm acquired compensation under the Protect Act in the United States for a Cambodian child survivor of sex exploitation. In addition to criminal justice, redress for survivors is essential to allow them to rebuild their lives.
Since 2011, the Sudanese government has consistently and intentionally bombed civilian targets in the States of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. As a result, the Nuba and Blue Nile people, mainly pastoralists, have been unable to farm and have been forced to flee their homes and hide in nearby caves or walk days to refugee camps in South Sudan. Making matters worse, the regime has blocked humanitarian aid, leaving most civilians without food, clean water, or simple medical treatments. Although a ceasefire was declared in October 2016, it did not eliminate attacks. PEJ worked with local partners to collect and preserve evidence of the conflict. On April 20, 2018, we filed an Expert Brief to support Communications 402/11 and 420/12, Sudanese Civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile v. Republic of Sudan, with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR). Other long-time Sudanese advocacy NGOs signed on and supported our brief, including Al Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE), International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI), African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum, and National Human Rights Monitor Organization (NHRMO).
On August 27, 2018, also in connection with the armed conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan States, PEJ submitted a Communication Regarding Human Rights Violations Against Sudanese Children in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, highlighting the egregious human rights violations that Sudanese children have endured between June 2011 to August 2018. We submitted this communication before the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). KACE, IRRI, ACJPS, Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum, and NHRMO supported it. The ACERWC is a regional human rights mechanism that makes rulings on violations by states. The Committee determined that PEJ’s Communication was admissible during the 33rd Ordinary Session held on March 18-28, 2019.
Numerous armed groups operate on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Working with a partner organization, PEJ is analyzing evidence of mass atrocities committed against civilians by one of the most brutal armed groups in this area. Taking a broader approach, we are also examining alternative enforcement mechanisms, like sanctions, that may prevent further financing and support from reaching this group.
In South Sudan, conflict returned even after its independence from Sudan. Competition between President Salva Kiir and Deputy President Riek Machar descended into civil war. Each party began mobilizing along ethnic lines to consolidate their position, and this proved deadly and difficult to contain. Massacres and sexual violence have been committed on both sides. PEJ supports a local NGO in its evidence collection and preservation process. We conducted three trainings for the monitors, providing an overview of international criminal law and practical exercises to reinforce standards on documentation and reporting.