May 9, 2014 (JUBA) – The European Union, one of the South Sudan’s biggest aid donors, said on Friday that it is considering imposing sanctions against those who commit human rights abuses or block peace talks aimed at ending the conflict.
South Sudan’s five-month-old conflict has claimed thousand lives and forced over one million people to flee their homes, since the former vice president, Riek Machar rebelled against president Salva Kiir’s government.
The EU’s threat comes after the United States on Tuesday identified and announced restrictive targeted sanctions against a senior rebel leader, Major General Peter Gadet Yak, and a top military officers in the South Sudanese army, Major General Marial Chinduong Yol, the head of the presidential guard division.
Both Yol and Yak, according to the release, are banned from traveling to the United States. It also froze access to any of their assets.
The decision prevents US companies and individuals from dealing with the two officers.
The European’s Union’s mission in South Sudan, Ambassador Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, said the EU was considering rolling out restrictive targeted sanctions, against individuals identified to have played a negative role , including those undermining peace process or those seen to be blocking efforts to resolve the conflict.
NO FREE RIDING FOR ABUSES
"The international community cannot sit idle with folded arms and look at terrible atrocities," said Burgsdorff.
"We need to intervene", he told reporters on Friday.
Ambassador Burgsdorff says the EU would follow up with similar sanctions if the rival leaders and their fighters fail to observe and respect requirements of fundamental rights.
"The EU is actively considering the possibility of targeted restrictive measures, against individuals obstructing the peace process and committing egregious human rights violations or war crimes there is no free riding in human rights."
The top foreign diplomat made the remark ahead of president Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel leader, Riek Machar’s direct face-to-face talks in Addis Ababa, capital of neighbouring Ethiopia on Friday.
The United Nations had accused both government and rebel forces on Thursday of committing crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and other sexual violence, during months of fighting that has killed thousands of people.
Hilde Johnson, head of the United Nations mission in the country says the violence had "put the country back decades", but expressed optimism that the damage could be reversible if it stops soon.