Enough Project: Sudan’s response to protests, State of Emergency ‘red lines’ for US investment

US corporate investment should not be promoted in Sudan while the country is in turmoil, a new report by the Washington-based Enough Project asserts.

US corporate investment should not be promoted in Sudan while the country is in turmoil, a new report by the Washington-based Enough Project asserts.

In a statement on Wednesday in response to the violent response by the Sudanese government to the widespread peaceful protests throughout the country, and the imposition of a year-long State of Emergency last week, the Enough Project argues that “torture, killing of peaceful protestors, and imposition of a State of Emergency should be major red flags for multinational company investments”.

The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources.

In Wednesday’s statement, the Enough Project expresses its deep concern about two recent meetings involving the US government related to American investment in Sudan. In Addis Ababa, the Sudanese Foreign Minister was invited to participate in the US-Africa Forum on Trade and Investment on February 12. In Khartoum, the Chargé d’affaires of the US Embassy in Sudan hosted a meeting on Thursday Feb 7 with a US 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: ‘The United States has a unique role to play’

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 US 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 ‘US 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 US 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. US 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, US 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 US 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.”

As argued in a previous Enough Project report, 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.