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August 28, 2007

Gov. Blagojevich signs law prohibiting Illinois pension funds from investing in companies that are associated with the Republic of Sudan

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law barring Illinois from investing money in the Republic of Sudan and divests any current investments linked to Sudan.  Senate Bill 1169, sponsored by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D – Chicago) and State Representative David Miller (D - Dolton), prohibits state pension funds from investing in companies that are associated with the Republic of Sudan.
“The government of the Sudan is drawing condemnation from across the free world for the crimes it has committed against its own people,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “Withholding pension investments from companies that support the Sudanese government is just one way we can send a strong message that the violence must end and dignity must be restored.” 
“I would like to thank the Governor, Speaker Madigan, Senate President Jones, and members of the General Assembly for recognizing the importance of this legislation,” said Rep. Miller.  “We have to do our part in making sure that the Sudanese government recognizes that Illinois does not condone their behavior.”
“I am proud to have been the first legislator in the nation to pass Sudan divestment legislation in 2005, and I am pleased that the Governor has signed Senate Bill 1169 so that Illinois can once again be a model for other states in divesting tax payer dollars from the terrorist regime.  Illinoisans are not willing to compromise their own humanity by associating with genocide,” said Sen. Collins. 
SB1169 sends a message to the Republic of Sudan that the state of Illinois does not condone human rights violations and is one of the latest measures taken by an American state to aid in the fight against the Sudanese genocide.  Several other states have divested from Sudan including, New Jersey, Maine and Oregon.  This year 10 governors have signed targeted divestment legislation including Florida, California, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.  New York and Vermont have implemented targeted divestment policies without legislation.  Hundreds of American Universities have also divested from Sudan. 
The 94th General Assembly passed a similar law, but in February 2007, a U.S. District Judge ruled the act unconstitutional. SB1169 is intended to amend the law to bring it in line with the constitutional requirements outlined by the U.S. District Judge.
Since February 2003, the Sudanese government and ethnic militias have been fighting two rebel groups from the country’s Darfur region, resulting in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.  As rebel groups have abducted civilians, attacked police stations, raided, and looted, the Sudanese government forces have systematically targeted civilian communities that share the same ethnicity as the rebel groups -- killing, looting, raping, forcibly displacing and destroying villages. This conflict has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of another 2 million.  On September 9, 2004, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "genocide has been committed in Darfur …and that genocide may still be occurring."
The United Nations Security Council passed several resolutions on Darfur, threatening sanctions.  However, these resolutions have had little to no effect.
The State’s five pension funds include the State Employees' Retirement System of Illinois, the Judges Retirement System of Illinois, the General Assembly Retirement System, the State Universities Retirement System, and the Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois. 
SB 1169 is effective immediately.


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