Dear Ambassador Rice and Secretary Kerry,
We write to urge you to impose targeted sanctions against more individuals from all parties to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan who are responsible for serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The increase in fighting in recent weeks – which has included law of war violations including rape, abductions and deliberate killing of civilians – makes clear that additional steps need to be taken to protect civilians from further harm.
Since the Obama administration issued Executive Order 13664 in April 2014, making way for US sanctions on South Sudanese individuals who commit human rights violations, only four commanders have been sanctioned.
The Obama administration has since threatened further sanctions numerous times. In response to the recent surge in fighting, the administration has once again condemned the violence, but in the absence of action, the credible threat of sanctions and their punitive value, is being lost.
In response to escalation in violence, the U.S. should take the lead in making additional sanctions designations against persons who have demonstrated a blatant disregard for civilian life and the suffering of their own people. We encourage the U.S. government immediately to:
1. Impose a new round of designations against those responsible for serious violations and request the Treasury Department prioritize evidence collection on South Sudanese targets.
2. Push for complementary sanctions designations at the UN Security Council, including an arms embargo to prevent weapons and ammunition being used by the warring parties to further more abuses.
3. Call on other states to impose their own targeted sanctions regimes.
In order to shift the calculations of the warring parties in advance of renewed peace talks, and to provide a form of accountability for widespread and horrific violations that have taken place in this conflict, the U.S. needs to take action to ensure the people of South Sudan do not bear the cost of war alone.
American Jewish World Service
The Enough Project
Human Rights Watch
National Association of Evangelicals
United to End Genocide