–Sudan must settle claims to access funds, and victims say discriminatory offer a non-starter
Washington, DC–Following today’s announcement that the Trump Administration plans to delist Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST), the majority of 1998 US embassy bombing victims issued a statement reiterating their rejection of Sudan’s settlement offer.
Settlement of the US Supreme Court judgments is not required to delist Sudan from the SST, but will be required for Sudan to access international funds and enter into contracts following delisting. Sudan has refused to negotiate directly with victims who worked at the US embassies and has been hoping it can dictate settlement terms through the State Department, which has no legal authority to settle the majority of the embassy bombing claims.
Sudan has been lobbying Congress to embrace a deal Sudan made with the Trump Administration to overturn U.S. Supreme Court judgments and replace them with a discriminatory plan where compensation is dependent on a victim’s nation of birth rather than severity of injury. This scheme would pay nothing at all to nearly a third of the embassy victims and categorizes naturalized US citizens as “non-Americans.” Furthermore, it sets the value of the life of a US embassy employee’s born in Africa at only 8% of an employee born in America. Over 500 of the 700 US embassy bombing victims have signed a letter rejecting these terms.
“We want a resolution but cannot accept one that betrays so many US embassy victims and the most basic principles of American justice,” said Doreen Oport, an American employee of the US embassy who was badly burned in the 1998 attack. “Sudan’s offer intentionally discriminates against victims with the least political clout, and we are so grateful for leaders like Senator Menendez and Senator Schumer who are willing to demand just for those without power and who still believe America can stand for something.”
The US State Department does not have the authority to settle claims for foreign national employees and has chosen to designate naturalized American citizens as foreign nationals. “Because these victims have final judgments, even an act by Congress seeking to enforce Sudan’s offer over victim’s objection would likely be struck down in Court because such an act would violate laws against discrimination based on nationality and the property rights of all judgment holders,” said Gavriel Mairone, attorney for the majority of the victims. “Victims have sought to negotiate terms that would be fair and sustainable for the people of Sudan, but Sudan has thus far refused to attempt to reach a compromise which would work for all parties.”
Senator Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has already issued a statement saying the State Department and Sudan must work to resolve the concerns of US embassy bombing victims before Congress will act on immunity legislation for Sudan.
*Courtesy of Eleison Group