A group of aid agencies that worked in Sudan during the civil war, reporting together as the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS), have called for an investigation into the role played by a consortium of oil companies in the conflict and their possible complicity in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
ECOS' report, UNPAID DEBT: The Legacy of Lundin, Petronas and OMV in Sudan, 1997-2003, says that the start of oil exploration in Block 5A in Southern Sudan set off a spiral of violence as the Sudanese government and forces loyal to them set out to secure and take control of the oil fields in that block. Thousands of inhabitants died, and almost 200,000 people were violently displaced.
Atrocities included killings, rape, child abduction, torture, the destruction of schools, markets and clinics and the burning of food, huts and animal shelters. Thousands died, and almost 200,000 people were violently displaced.
The terror began after the Sudanese government signed an oil exploration contract with a consortium comprising Swedish company Lundin Oil AB, Petronas Carigali Overseas from Malaysia, OMV (Sudan) Exploration GmbH from Austria, and the Sudanese company Sudapet Ltd.
The oil consortium, the report says, 'should have been aware of the abuses committed by the armed groups that partly provided for their security needs. However, they continued to work with the Sudanese government, its agencies and its army'.
Now ECOS is calling on the Swedish, Austrian and Malaysian governments to investigate whether, as a matter of international law, the companies 'were complicit in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by others during the period 1997-2003.'
ECOS is calling for the oil companies to recompense survivors of the violence. A material right to compensation for past injustices that occurred as a result of oil exploitation is created in both Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the country's Interim National Constitution, but no adequate compensation has been received to date.
Lundin, which led the oil consortium, denies that it violated the norms of international law or that it participated in or had, or ought to have had, knowledge of any of the illegal acts that are documented in the report.
It says that it at all times acted in accordance with all applicable local and international laws and its operations have been and continue to be conducted in a manner which seeks to have a positive influence on the country and people of Sudan.
There should be no more war over oil in Sudan. The parties to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) are discussing arrangements for the future management of the oil industry. These should include compensation, and the oil companies and their home governments can play a key role in bringing that about. Moreover, ECOS contends that it is their duty. A compensation process that will do justice to the victims and is designed to create the conditions for reconciliation and forgiveness, would bring crucial peace dividends and contribute to a much needed environment of trust in the oil-producing areas and beyond.
Therefore, to promote peace and achieve justice for the victims of the oil war in Block 5A, ECOS recommends that:
Download the full report UNPAID DEBT: The Legacy of Lundin, Petronas and OMV in Sudan, 1997-2003
See also www.ecosonline.orgNatural Resources, Conflict & Human Rights, Dealing with the Past, Africa