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Clooney urges action on Sudan generals’ assets

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Hollywood star and activist George Clooney on Tuesday urged the international community to go after illicit money from Sudan, voicing hope that financial pressure would change the calculus for generals who violently put down pro-democracy protests.

Clooney — a longtime campaigner for human rights in Sudan’s western region of Darfur — noted that the notorious Janjaweed militias were involved both in abuses in Darfur and in putting down demonstrations last week.

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Dozens were killed when paramilitary forces forcibly dispersed a weeks-long sit-in outside the headquarters of the army, which had deposed veteran leader Omar al-Bashir but balked at protesters’ persistent demands for a prompt transition to civilian rule.

Clooney, in a joint op-ed piece written with former US official John Prendergast, said that the generals were afraid they would lose out in a deal after they “looted the country with impunity for 30 years.”

The pair said that The Sentry, an initiative they founded to track dirty money, had pointed to financial laundering out of Sudan as the crisis intensified.

“Freezing and seizing some of those assets — and blocking some of these officials from the international financial system — would be a major and unutilized point of leverage for peace and human rights,” Clooney and Prendergast wrote in Politico.

“By creating significant financial consequences for regime leaders and their commercial collaborators, diplomats from Africa, Europe and the United States will be able to to influence the cost-benefit calculus of Khartoum’s generals,” they wrote.

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They voiced fear that US envoys including Tibor Nagy — the top US diplomat for Africa, who is due in Khartoum this week — will see their appeals “fall on deaf ears” without parallel action on the pocketbooks of the generals.

Despite Western criticism of the crackdown, Clooney and Prendergast noted that the generals still enjoy support from Gulf Arab states, China and Russia.

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How corporate lawyers made it harder to punish companies that destroy electronic evidence

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In the early 2000s, a series of civil lawsuits against giant corporations illustrated the disastrous consequences that could ensue if a defendant failed to provide electronic evidence such as company emails or records. In one suit against tobacco giant Philip Morris in 2004, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler concluded that the company deliberately deleted troves of emails that contained incriminating information. She fined the company $2.7 million for the breach, levied $250,000 fines against each of the company supervisors found culpable and barred them from testifying at the trial.

Big corporations rallied for changes and got them. In 2006, the rules that govern federal litigation were changed to create a “safe harbor” that would protect companies from consequences for failing to save electronic evidence as long as they followed a consistent policy and, when put on notice of imminent litigation, preserved all relevant materials.

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John Bolton had concerns about Donald Trump’s favors to autocrats: report

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Former national security advisor John Bolton privately told the US attorney general last year about concerns that President Donald Trump was essentially granting favors to autocrats, The New York Times reported Monday.

It said the revelations, concerning the leaders of China and Turkey, come in an unpublished book manuscript by Bolton.

The same manuscript says Trump told Bolton that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security aid to Ukraine until officials there helped to investigate his political rivals, the Times previously reported.

Those allegations have roiled Trump's impeachment trial that is ongoing in the US Senate.

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Fox News host scolds Mike Pompeo for scuffle with reporter: ‘Don’t be such a baby!’

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Fox News host Steve Hilton scolded Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for being a "baby," a "bully" and an "embarrassment" after NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly reported that he berated and cursed at her for asking questions about the Ukraine scandal.

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got into an ugly dustup with an NPR reporter this week, and I've got something I want to get off my chest," Fox's Steve Hilton told his viewers on Sunday.

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