July 31, 2016 (KAMPALA) - A Canadian company sold over 170 armoured vehicles to South Sudan army during the country’s brutal civil war, a United Nations report shows.
- Arms and light weapons have been used by both warring parties in South Sudan to commit abuses (Photo courtesy of SSANSA)
According to The Globe and Mail, the armoured vehicles sold to South Sudan were manufactured by Canadian-owned Streit Group at a factory in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The UN panel said the armoured vehicles from Streit Group belonged to the South Sudanese army, but were imported and maintained by Crown Automobiles, a company owned by Obac William Olawo, a South Sudan businessman allegedly with close connections to President Salva Kiir.
Founded in Ontario in the 1990s and owned by Canadian businessman Guerman Goutorov, Streit Group is “the world’s leading manufacturer of armoured vehicles.”
Some of the vehicles, it said, were observed in heavy combat zones, citing a report from arms-control advocacy entity.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in South Sudan’s worst-ever outbreak of violence since it seceded from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011.
Since 2014, however, human-rights observers, including UN experts, have documented how South Sudan’s army has allegedly engaged in massacres, rapes, looting, arbitrary arrests and killing of civilians since war erupted in the nation.
The UN Secretary General, early this month, urged the 15-member Security Council to impose an immediate arms embargo, enact additional targeted sanctions on leaders and commanders blocking implementation of the peace deal after renewed fighting between the country’s rival factions left over 270 soldiers dead in the capital, Juba.
China and Russia have often stood in the way of the Security Council’s approval of an arms embargo on South Sudan.
Arms exports to South Sudan is considered a violation of the international Arms Trade Treaty, approved by the UN General Assembly in 2013 and has since then been ratified by 133 nations.
In April, a UN panel reportedly accused Streit Group of violating an international arms embargo on Libya in 2012 by selling armoured vehicles to the country without obtaining advance approval from a UN sanctions committee.
A spokesman for Canada’s Global Affairs department reportedly said this week that the federal government “takes seriously” the issue of arms exports, but he described Streit’s sale of armoured vehicles to the world’s youngest nation as a transaction between that country and the UAE, since the vehicles were manufactured in a UAE factory.
However, when arms equipment is manufactured outside Canada, even if the company is Canadian-owned, the federal government reportedly considers those sales to be outside the jurisdiction of Canada’s export controls.
Meanwhile, a separate report, by the US-based advocacy group, Control Arms, reportedly described how the SPLA used 50 Cougar and Typhoon armoured personnel carriers that it obtained from Streit Group’s UAE factory between 2012 and 2014 for $9-million.