24 May 2012

CMC calls on Sudanese government to investigate cluster bomb use allegations: Sudan must join 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions

The remnants of the tail section of an RBK-500 AO-2.5RT cluster bomb found near the village of Ongolo in southern Sudan.  The presence of the retaining rod, projecting upwards from the tail, indicates that at least some of the necessary ancillary items of the bomb were installed when it was taken from storage prior to its use.  (c) Aris Roussinos May 2012  (London, 24 May 2012): The government of Sudan must immediately investigate allegations that its armed forces used cluster munitions during the ongoing conflict in the south of the country, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) said today.Cluster munitions have been banned by the majority of the world under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions because of the devastating impact they have on civilians during a strike and long after a conflict ends.“These weapons are indiscriminate, unreliable, inaccurate and outmoded and for these reasons they have been banned under international law,” said Laura Cheeseman, Director of the Cluster Munition Coalition.“The Sudanese government should take these allegations seriously, conduct a thorough investigation, and make the findings known. Moreover, Sudan should ban this weapon by joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” Cheeseman said. Today The Independent newspaper printed a photograph of a failed RBK-500 AO-2.5RT cluster munition container with AO-2.5 RT submunitions inside. The photo was taken in a settlement in Ongolo in Southern Kordofan, Sudan. Locals have claimed that it was dropped on 15 April 2012. The cluster munition container, which is designed to open in midair scattering its 108 submunitions, only partially dispersed the smaller bombs, none of which exploded as designed. Technical experts have confirmed that this bomb was dropped by an aircraft.CMC has also received photographs from an independent researcher showing explosive submunitions of the type 81 DPICM (Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions) in the town of Troji, also in Southern Kordofan.  Accounts given by local villagers state that on 29 February 2012 the Sudanese government launched cluster munition attacks, and that two teenage boys were killed when they picked up one of the deadly submunitions.At a meeting on the Convention on Cluster Munitions held in Geneva last month, the CMC met with Sudanese officials to raise concerns that Sudanese government forces had recently used cluster munitions and called on the government to investigate. At the meeting Sudan denied it had ever used cluster munitions, and also said it had never held any stockpile of the weapon.Apart from the recent allegations, there is ample evidence that Sudanese forces sporadically used air-dropped cluster munitions in southern Sudan during the civil conflict between 1995 and 2000, prior to the south’s independence.The CMC also wrote to Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Ahmed Karti in March 2012 when initial allegations were brought to the campaign’s attention, but a response has not yet been received.“The conflict is having a terrible impact on civilians already, but the use of indiscriminate cluster munitions will pose a deadly risk long after the conflict ends, as many fail to explode on impact,” Cheeseman added.Neither Sudan nor South Sudan has joined the Convention, the global ban that prohibits all use, stockpiling, manufacture, and transfer of the weapon. Sudan adopted the Convention at the end of negotiations in Dublin in May 2008, but did not subsequently sign it. It has continued to state its intent to join, but has not yet done so.Sudanese government representatives have consistently denied ever using the weapon, including at the First Meeting of States Parties to the CCM in Lao PDR in November 2010.The status of Sudan’s stockpile of cluster munitions is unknown.There are areas in both Sudan and South Sudan that are contaminated with unexploded cluster munitions. In both countries, remnants of the weapon have been found in residential areas, farmland, pasture, rivers and streams, on hillsides, in desert areas, in and around former military barracks, on roads, in minefields, and in ammunition storage areas.While South Sudan recently acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty it has not yet joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The CMC calls on South Sudan to accede to the CCM at the earliest possible moment.CMC Press Release - CMC calls on Sudanese government to investigate cluster bomb use allegationsMedia contact:Kate WiggansMedia & Communications Manager ICBL-CMC (in Geneva, GMT +1)Email: kate@icblcmc.org ?Mobile: +41 78 685 1146For more details on cluster munitions in Sudan, and the country’s history of interaction with the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions please visit the Country Profile on the Cluster Munition Monitor. CMC on Facebook and Twitter