A federal panel on religious freedom has appealed to the Bush administration to mount a "comprehensive, sustained campaign" to pressure Sudan to respect basic human rights.

The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom said in a March 21 report that the Sudanese government's abuse of human rights has reached "genocidal proportions," and has worsened since the commission's annual report on religious freedom last May.

That report urged Washington to help end the 18-year-old civil war in Sudan by tightening sanctions against the country, creating a military no-fly zone over Sudan, and pressuring the Sudanese government to end human-rights violations.

More than 2 million people have died since 1983 in fighting and war-induced famines amid the struggle between the Islamic government in the north and autonomy-seeking groups in the predominantly animist and Christian south.

The United States should strengthen economic sanctions against Sudan, the report said, and it should require foreign companies doing business with Sudan to disclose that information to investors in America when using U.S. markets to raise money.

The commission discouraged any appointment of an ambassador to Sudan. Commissioners suggested instead that Bush appoint an envoy "whose sole responsibility is directed to bringing about a peaceful and just settlement of the war in Sudan and an end to religious freedom abuses and humanitarian atrocities."

Related Elsewhere

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom's March 21 report on Sudan and a related press release are available at the commission's Web site.

This week, the commission released its annual report, which reiterated many of its March 21 findings. Sudan, it said, is "the world's most violent abuser ...

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