Governor Patrick Signs Darfur Divestment Bill
New law prohibits certain state investment in country beleaguered by violence
BOSTON-Friday, November 02, 2007-Acknowledging the violence and human suffering plaguing the Sudanese people of Darfur, Governor Deval Patrick today signed into law a bill ending the state's investment in certain companies that are complicit in genocide in Sudan. The law compliments the sanctions already in place under federal law.
"We want to send a clear signal that we, like so many people around the world, expect swift action to end the suffering of the Sudanese people," said Governor Patrick. "The Sudanese government must take a strong stand against the genocide in their country, and bring real relief and progress to the people of the region."
"It is in our great tradition to fight for freedom and the dignity of all people," said Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray. "Massachusetts is the cradle of the American Revolution; we led the charge for abolition; we played a major role in obtaining women's suffrage; and we stood at the forefront of the civil rights movement. This great history is no accident-it is our legacy and it defines our duty to act in the face of tyranny and genocide. I am so proud that we can join with the dozens of other states and countries choosing to stand up to the Sudanese government on behalf of all those who are suffering."
The legislation, strongly supported by legislative leadership and members, requires the state Pension Reserves and Investment Management board (PRIM) to hire a third party within 90 days to identify companies whose business activities supports the genocide in the Sudan. The law requires divestment from certain companies doing business in Sudan that provide supplies, services or military support to the Sudanese government, have 10 percent or more of their revenue coming from Sudanese oil or mining and are determined to be complicit in the Darfur genocide.
The board will then sell, divest, redeem or withdraw all publicly-traded securities from the identified countries, with benchmarks of 50 percent divestment in six months and full divestment in one year.
"The crisis in Sudan is an international concern, but we can act locally to make a difference in support of the people of Darfur," Senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) said. "By enacting a targeted divestment law, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is doing the right thing and disassociating itself from genocide. Today is a day when we can all be proud that Massachusetts has stood up and taken a stand against genocide. I applaud Governor Patrick and Lt. Gov. Murray for their leadership on this issue. Without their support from the beginning, we would have had a much more difficult time moving this bill forward."
"I am heartened to see this legislation be signed into law by the Governor," said Representative Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington). "On both a personal and professional level, I am appalled that we are still faced with nation-states that practice genocide. Today, we are all sending a clear and strong message that the Commonwealth will no longer tolerate nor invest in regimes like the Sudan."
The law allows the Commonwealth to resume investing in the affected companies when US sanctions are lifted.
After graduating from Harvard in 1978, Governor Patrick worked for a period of time with a United Nations youth training project in the Darfur region of Sudan.