“Achieving compensation for these victims has been a top priority for the Department of State. We hope this aids them in finding some resolution for the terrible tragedies that occurred,” Blinken said.
The multi-million dollar settlement was a key component in lifting Sudan’s decades-old state sponsor of terrorism designation, which came with a series of restrictions including a ban on defense exports and sales and restrictions on US foreign assistance.
The money was held in that escrow account until Sudan’s sovereign immunities — which prevent it from being sued in federal court — were restored.
Blinken said Wednesday that the State Department last week “transmitted to Congress the Secretary’s certification restoring Sudan’s sovereign immunities pursuant to the Sudan Claims Resolution Act enacted last December,” meaning the money could now be disbursed to the victims.
“We appreciate Sudan’s constructive efforts over the past two years to work with us to resolve these long-outstanding claims,” Blinken said. “With this challenging process behind us, U.S.-Sudan relations can start a new chapter.”
“We look forward to expanding our bilateral relationship and to continuing our support for the efforts of the civilian-led transitional government to deliver freedom, peace, and justice to the Sudanese people,” he said.
USAID official John Granville was ambushed and assassinated in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on New Year’s Day 2008.
The Sudan Claims Resolution Act was among the provisions of the omnibus bill signed by former President Donald Trump in late December. It restored Sudan’s sovereign immunity with an exception for litigation from 9/11 victims and families. Protection for the pending suit was a key sticking point in negotiations, as 9/11 families had feared that earlier iterations of the deal could imperil their case against the African nation.
The act also resolved another major point of contention over the earlier settlement — unequal compensation for the victims the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Under the $335M settlement between the US and Sudan, those who were US citizens at the time of the bombings would receive more than those who became citizens after the fact and foreign national embassy employees. The legislation signed into law as part of the omnibus included $150M in additional funds to allow for equitable compensation between birthright and naturalized citizens.