ICRC appalled by death of four detained sudanese
01-04-1999 News Release 99/18
Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been informed that a Sudanese Red Crescent worker and three government officials who had accompanied an ICRC team in southern Sudan have been killed while detained by the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).
On 18 February an ICRC/Sudanese Red Crescent team on a mission near the southern Sudanese town of Bentiu inadvertently strayed into territory held by the SPLM/A. The four Sudanese and two ICRC expatriates were captured. On 12 March, the two expatriates were released.
After more than one month and despite its immediate and sustained efforts, the ICRC was unable to secure the release of the four men. Furthermore, despite the public assurances of the SPLM/A that the Sudanese Red Crescent worker was free to leave, and indeed should have left together with the ICRC delegates, the SPLM/A kept him in custody.
During the visit to Geneva of SPLM/A Chairman, Doctor John Garang, on 22 March, ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga privately urged the SPLM/A to release the remaining persons without delay. He subsequently repeated this demand in public.
The ICRC is shocked and appalled at the news of the death of the four Sudanese nationals, and in particular that of a Red Crescent worker. It notes with dismay that its repeated calls for their safety were not taken into account. Whatever the exact circumstances, the SPLM/A cannot but be held accountable for their deaths. The ICRC demands a full inquiry to shed light on the events and the full cooperation o f the SPLM/A in repatriating the four bodies to allow for a decent burial.