Khartoum Denies Visas to UN Investigators

The Government of Sudan has apparently refused to issue visas to a team of human rights investigators, dispatched to Darfur by the new Human Rights Council. The Council voted unanimously to send the team to Darfur and they were expected to start their work this week. But because they have not been given entry visas by the Sudanese government they are currently in a holding pattern in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Yesterday afternoon, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his displeasure with Khartoum’s behavior, saying “He [Bashir] said he would issue visas to the fact-finding mission. He said he would have no problem, and I am very much disappointed by the decision of the Sudanese government.”

Unfortunately, there is precious little that Ban can do to force Khartoum to relent and issue the visas. Besides lodging strongly-worded complaints, there is little in the way of punitive measures available to the Secretary General that could help prod Khartoum into changing its behavior. Ultimately, this responsibility belongs to the Security Council. And so far, it would seem that member states are unwilling to apply the kind of pressure necessary to push a reluctant government in Sudan to yield to the demands of the international community.