June 17, 2003
When the mandate for a Civilian Protection Monitoring Team was negotiated in March 2002 by US special envoy for Sudan John Danforth, it appeared that an immensely important breakthrough had been achieved. For the first time in twenty years of civil war—war that has seen unfathomable civilian destruction and suffering, primarily in southern Sudan—a monitoring force would be deployed with a commitment to halt attacks on non-combatant civilians. The means were to be a monitoring force that would “investigate, evaluate and report on alleged incidents involving serious violations” of obligations “to protect the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects against the danger arising from military operations (Article 1, Basic Undertakings, “Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to Protect Non-combatant Civilians and Civilian Facilities from Military Attack,” March 31, 2003).
But a careful analysis of the history of the US-led CPMT reveals on the part of the US State Department and the US charge d’affaires in Khartoum a shameful willingness to delay deployment, to compromise investigations, and to abandon the most successful methods and leaders in order to appease the sensibilities of the Khartoum regime. This conveys the ominous message that the US is willing to act expediently in dealing with Khartoum, mistakenly believing that this will entice the regime to make peace. But all evidence suggests that Khartoum will regard such expediency as a signal that there is more to extract from a peace process in which it has already proved the intransigent party. In short, expediency makes peace less, not more likely.
The agreement that created the Civilian Monitoring Team (CPMT) was signed in March 2002, but it was not for over half a year (late October of 2002) that the CPMT was meaningfully deployed. Such inexcusable delay must be remarked in trying to assess the US State Department’s commitment to this important agreement. Indeed, more than three months after the agreement, in mid-July 2002 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner indicated that the force would only be deployed in August of 2002—that this was a reasonable time-frame. There was no evident dismay that this would already represent a delay in deployment of more than four months.
When the monitoring team had still not been deployed by the end of August, there were serious questions about whether deployment had any real support at the State Department’s Africa Bureau. Senior Congressional staffers in a position to make inquiries received from the State Department responses that suggested the Africa Bureau did not really wish to see the monitoring team deployed. Why? Because, these highly reliable Congressional staffers indicated, State felt there was no way to deal with what would inevitably prove to be evidence damning of Khartoum—the clear inference being that this would make the peace negotiations more complicated.
This theme—of ignoring gross human rights abuses in the interests of somehow expediting a peace deal—has recurred in present circumstances, and will bear further scrutiny by way of conclusion.
Though the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) began with a problematic report on a late September 2002 aerial attack (involving Khartoum’s MiG aircraft) in the Mundri/Lui area of Western Equatoria, the addition of personnel with substantial Sudan experience produced a team that, under the leadership of Colonel Paul Davenport, would soon begin to make highly effective reports on the very large military offensives by Khartoum in the oil regions of Western Upper Nile. Beginning in late December 2002, these offensives, and their attendant civilian destruction, would continue for all of January 2003 (and beyond), in clear violation not only of the agreement that created the CPMT, but of the October 15, 2003 cease-fire agreement that the Khartoum regime had also signed.
Throughout January and February of 2003, the CPMT performed in extraordinary fashion, flying virtually daily, producing many highly detailed analyses, and impressive summary reports (see especially “CPMT Final Report: Military Events in Western Upper Nile, 31 December 2002 to 30 January 2003,” Khartoum, February 6, 2003; “CPMT Report to IGAD: Military Events in Leer, 26 to 30 January 2003,” Khartoum, 2 February 2003). Here was completely authoritative evidence that Khartoum has indeed been engaged in systematic civilian destruction and displacement in the oil regions of Western Upper Nile, in service of further oil development and continued production.
But precisely because of this success, Khartoum’s military grounded the CPMT from March 7, 2003 through April 11, 2003—denying all flight access to all CPMT requests to investigate further attacks on civilians. Though this fact was deliberately and shamefully omitted from the April 21, 2003 State Department report on Sudan (a report required per the terms of the Sudan Peace Act), it was widely known and reported. The UN’s Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported (April 7, 2003) that CPMT Director of Operations, Lane Pankey, had been explicit about the nature of Khartoum’s means of obstruction:
“Since 7 March, Sudanese military intelligence had stopped processing the notifications, which meant CPMT teams were unable to travel. ‘They [the military] are supposed to provide security protection and acknowledge what we are going to do,’ [Pankey said]. ‘[Since 7 March] there have been no visits to sites to complete investigations and no new investigations have been initiated.'” (UN IRIN, April 7, 2003)
Khartoum’s grounding of the CPMT directly violated the terms of the March 2002 agreement, which specifies “unhindered flight access.”
During this interval of March 7, 2003 to April 11, 2003, the first head of CPMT in Khartoum (General Herb Lloyd) was replaced. His replacement, General Charles Baumann, had no Sudan knowledge or experience, and yet his first action was to fire Paul Davenport, the head of CPMT-Rumbek (Southern Sector) and the person who led and oversaw the critical Western Upper Nile investigations of January and February 2003 (Baumann took up his responsibilities on March 20, 2003 and fired Davenport on March 23, 2003). Moreover, since Baumann’s tenure began, there have been highly significant changes in operating procedures with the resumed “investigations.”
Most notably, Khartoum is now given, or has successfully demanded, 72 hours notice for any intended investigations. This, of course, flies directly in the face of the explicit language of the CPMT mandate: CPMT investigators are to be granted “unhindered flight access”; Khartoum, as one of the parties to the agreement, agrees to “ensure that there is no obstacle to these visits taking place ***as soon as possible*** after the report of the alleged incident has been received” (my emphasis). CPMT flies much less often, has done much less in the way of investigating, and has produced far, far less in the way of reliable and useful reports. There is also clear evidence of an increasing accommodation of Khartoum’s perspective, a troubling development that rightly has produced much consternation within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which had assumed that CPMT would preserve investigative neutrality.
In short, despite the feeble gesture of creating a website (www.cpmtsudan.org), communication of the realities of Western Upper Nile and Eastern Upper Nile has significantly deteriorated under the tenure of General Baumann.
Here it is particularly important to note the failure of the website to carry the results of a supposedly completed CPMT investigation into atrocities in the remote area of Liang, Dengaji, Kawaji and Yawaji in Eastern Upper Nile, atrocities reported many months ago. The report, which first reached the US State Department in early February of 2003, give an account of a massacre by Khartoum’s forces of as many as 3000 civilians, civilians nowhere near any military opposition. The report given the State Department is replete with dates, locations (including GPS coordinates), photographs, interviews, and clear accounts of the nature of forensic evidence available for any investigation. The report was prepared, on the basis of a first-hand investigation of the actual sites in January 2003, by Dennis Bennett of Servant’s Heart and Mel Middleton of Freedom Quest (Alberta, Canada). Both men have extensive experience in southern Sudan; Servant’s Heart has had a humanitarian presence in Eastern Upper Nile and Southern Blue Nile for five years.
A State Department official with primary responsibilities for Sudan, Michael Ranneberger, at the time characterized the report and evidence as precisely the sort of data that the State Department wished to see from humanitarian organizations operating in southern Sudan. Ranneberger further indicated that the reported atrocities in Liang, Dengaji, Kawaji and Yawaji would be a high priority, and that an investigation would begin immediately (this was to have been communicated directly to US charge d’affaires in Khartoum, Jeff Millington). This was February 5, 2002—over four months ago. Eastern Upper Nile is now well into the rainy season, and thus evidence that was degraded during the entire rainy season of 2002 has been allowed to degrade further, with grass and other growth obscuring more and more of what might have been found with a timely investigation.
What is the status of the investigation? A CPMT email communication (forwarded to this source) makes clear that the investigation had been completed at the very beginning of June. The excuse for not publishing the findings immediately is that the report has now gone to the “parties” (i.e., the SPLM and the Khartoum regime). But this should take only a few days—at most, the “set period of one week” stipulated by the March 2002 agreement. It is today June 17, 2003: more than 14 months after the atrocities are alleged to have occurred; more than four months after the atrocities were first authoritatively reported to the State Department; and at least two weeks since CPMT claimed to have completed its investigation of these atrocities.
This is unconscionable delay and sadly of a piece with the failure of the CPMT to investigate effectively additional atrocities recently reported from Eastern Upper Nile. Servant’s Heart again reported to the State Department and to the CPMT a coordinated night-time attack on Longochok and nine other surrounding villages in Eastern Upper Nile. A CPMT team was dispatched, this time promptly, but several reports from the region (including one from a reliable source not associated with Servant’s Heart) suggest that investigative interviews have been conducted in a highly biased fashion, with a clear, if bewildering, presumption that Khartoum’s military was offering an accurate account of the very attacks it stood accused of making. Moreover, it appears that only the CPMT team based in Khartoum (Northern Sector) has been involved in the investigation, even in areas not controlled by Khartoum. The failure to involve the CPMT team based in Rumbek (Southern Sector) seems suspicious, as do a number of features of CPMT behavior.
Indeed, the evidence suggests that recent CPMT behavior is guided more by political concerns than a desire to provide timely and objective accounts of attacks on civilians. If we survey developments since Khartoum’s grounding of CPMT in early March (i.e., after it became clear just how effective CPMT had become in conducting investigations in Western Upper Nile), they are all distinctly ominous:
 On March 23, 2003 (during the grounding of CPMT) Paul Davenport, the highly effective leader of the CPMT team based in Rumbek, is fired by General Charles Baumann, three days after the inexperienced Baumann arrives in Sudan to relieve the previous head of CPMT, General Herb Lloyd.
 When CPMT resumes flights on April 11, 2003 (after having been grounded for five weeks) it does so with suspiciously different notification procedures and very peculiarly heightened forensic standards. The result is to delay CPMT investigations by several days and to quash several reports prepared on the basis of completed investigations.
 On April 21, 2003 the US State Department releases its report on Sudan (as required by the Sudan Peace Act). Though the CPMT is discussed favorably, there is no mention of Khartoum’s grounding of the force for five weeks. This deeply disingenuous omission clearly suggests that the State Department if prepared to live with whatever terms Khartoum imposes on further CPMT deployment in southern Sudan.
 As of June 17, 2003 there has been no report issued on the investigation of the massive atrocities reported from the Liang, Dengaji, Kawaji and Yawaji area of Eastern Upper Nile (again, as many 3000 non-combatant civilians may have been slaughtered, nowhere near any fighting). The date for these incidents is early April 2002—within the time-frame established by the original March 2002 agreement that created the CPMT, but now 14 months ago. Despite a promise from the State Department in early February 2003 to make the incidents at Liang, Dengaji, Kawaji and Yawaji a priority, no report has been made public well over four months later. (The CPMT’s most recently web-posted investigation addresses “reports of looting the poles from luaks and the thatching in the villages of Nyoang, Tuoch and Rubkua.”)
 Evidence, from different sources, suggests that the CPMT investigation of attacks in the Longochok area of Eastern Upper Nile has been conducted with a transparent bias toward the point of view of and accounts offered by Khartoum’s military—the very force accused of the attacks which killed and wounded scores of noncombatant civilians, and resulted in numerous abductions of women and children. This is a highly familiar pattern of military assault by Khartoum’s regular and militia forces—indeed, a pattern that has been well documented in various parts of southern Sudan by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN Special Rapporteurs for Sudan, Christian Aid (UK), and many other authoritative human rights reports.
This all occurs at the very moment that Eastern Upper Nile seems poised to see very substantial new fighting, when humanitarian aid is increasingly threatened by Khartoum-allied militias, and when there are multiple reports that Khartoum has now deployed helicopter gunships to Eastern Upper Nile. The latter is without precedent and is a clear violation of both the October 15, 2002 cessation of offensive hostilities agreement and the February 4, 2003 “Addendum” to the October 15 agreement.
These authoritative reports of helicopter gunships at Mading, and flying between Nasir and Malakal (all in Eastern Upper Nile), highlight the importance of a force with a mandate that is different from that of the CPMT, viz. the Verification and Monitoring Team (VMT) negotiated as part of the February 4, 2003 “Addendum.” Though agreement was reached on the creation of a VMT over four months ago, Khartoum and the SPLM agreed to the actual terms of deployment and tasking of the VMT only at the end of the last Machakos negotiating session (May 20, 2003). The team is to be British-led (even as the UK has contributed half the roughly $1 million that will be used to begin operations), and clearly has many vital missions—far more than can be achieved with proposed initial levels of deployment, but a vital first step.
Thus it is highly alarming that Rob Symmonds, formerly a colonel in the UK armed services, as well as immediately previous chief-of-staff for the Joint Military Commission in the Nuba Mountains, should have been fired from his position as chief of operations three days after he assumed his duties on June 6, 2003. He was dismissed by General Lazaro Sumbeiywo, chief Machakos mediator for IGAD. But given the role of General Baumann in firing Paul Davenport, and the hand-in-glove relationship between Baumann and US charge d’affaires in Khartoum, Jeff Millington, it is difficult not to surmise that Sumbeiywo fired Symmonds at the behest of Baumann and Millington.
What was the cause of Symmonds’ firing? Ostensibly it was for what amounts to insubordination. And the basis for such a charge? While in the field in southern Sudan, Symmonds and his team unexpectedly encountered a CPMT team at the same investigation site. Determined to avoid such uncoordinated, and potentially compromising, encounters, Symmonds spoke from the field to Baumann, who was also in the field. On the basis of what had seemed a productive conversation, Symmonds then flew to Khartoum to meet with Millington and the British ambassador to Khartoum, William Patey, this to establish a protocol for communication between CPMT and VMT. Immediately on his return to Nairobi, Sumbeiywo fired Symmonds, leaving the VMT without effective leadership and in effect paralyzed.
What should we infer from this mare’s nest of facts, reports, and well-established changes in procedure and attitudes? It certainly seems as if the US State Department, via charge d’affaires Millington in Khartoum, intends to keep tight control of all reports, all investigative functions and leaders, and all reports by both CPMT and VMT. The purpose is to insure what the State Department would no doubt call a “conducive negotiating atmosphere”—not discomfiting the Khartoum regime with revealing accounts of their “misbehavior.” What this means in fact is that Khartoum and its militia allies are increasingly confident that they will not be held responsible for attacks on civilians and violations of the cease-fire agreement. This in effect gives a green light to escalating fighting and serious human rights abuses in Eastern Upper Nile. The ominous and unprecedented presence of deadly helicopter gunships in Eastern Upper Nile should be signal enough that there may soon be a very serious escalation in fighting.
This is the moment in which Sudan and the peace process most need robust, effective, and well-led teams, both to monitor the terms of the cease-fire and to investigate attacks on civilians. These are key confidence-building measures for the people of the south. All signs, however, indicate that the VMT is not only very belatedly deployed but without effective leadership. And CPMT, itself scandalously belated in deployment, seems to have become a highly ineffective, biased, and politicized organization, whose mission has been subordinated to political calculations emanating from the US charge d’affaires in Khartoum and ultimately the Africa Bureau at the US State Department.
Far from promoting peace, such developments increase the chances for renewed fighting in Eastern Upper Nile and lessen the confidence of people in southern Sudan that the international community is truly invested in their future. Such expediency, whatever encouraging noises it elicits from Khartoum, surely augurs poorly for the fate of the peace process.
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