The State Duty to Protect
The Government of Sudan, through a variety of tribal militias, the country’s army and air force, and Arab muraheleen units, fought all real and potential rivals on the ground and cleared away the population in Block 5A. Sudan used artillery, ground troops, helicopter gunships, and high-altitude bombers against the civilian population. Almost 200,000 civilians were deliberately forced off their lands and thousands died. There were many reports of arbitrary attacks on civilians, unlawful killing, arson, looting, rape, enslavement, underage recruiting, torture, and theft. The forced displacement was motivated by the desire to secure the oil fields for the purpose of oil exploration.
It is the duty of the states to respect, protect and fulfill human rights and fundamental freedoms. Unpaid Debt argues that the home countries of the consortium members – Sweden, Austria and Malaysia – failed in their duty to protect as they did not investigate and prevent human rights violations that were directly linked to the activities of companies based in their countries.
To promote peace and achieve justice for the victims of the oil war in Block 5A, the report recommended that
- The Governments of Sweden, Austria, and Malaysia investigate the alleged violations of norms of international law by their national oil companies.
- The Governments of Sweden, Austria, and Malaysia account for their failure to prevent the alleged human rights violations and international crimes.
- The Governments of Sweden, Austria, and Malaysia ensure appropriate compensation for all persons whose rights have been violated in the course of the war for control over Sudan’s oil fields.
Following the publication of the report, the Swedish Prosecution Authority initiated an investigation into links between the reported war crimes and Sweden. In November, 2016, the Chairman of the Board, Ian H Lundin, and CEO Alexander Schneiter of Lundin Petroleum were informed that they are suspected of aiding and abetting war crimes and/or crimes agains humanity.
Victims of human rights violations a right to remedy and reparation. This requires access to an adequate mechanism. Unfortunately South Sudan, where Block 5A is located today, is struggling through a civil war. An network organisation of victims of the oil war in Block 5A, Liech Victim’s Voices, was established to represent the victims. It believes that, under the current circumstances, the Government of South Sudan cannot establish or even properly contribute to a remedy and reparation process.
In 2016, Liech Victim’s Voices, formally claimed their right to remedy and asked the Governments of Sweden and Norway to investigate options for an independently managed remedy process under international oversight.