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S. Sudan criticises NGOs over calls for sanctions, arms embargo

June 16, 2015 (JUBA) – South Sudan has criticised recent calls for sanctions by non-governmental entities, describing it as “disincentive” for achieving peace in the young nation.

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The UN Security Council votes unanimously to impose sanctions on those blocking peace in South Sudan (Photo: UN/Devra Berkowitz)

Last week, six international organisations urged leaders from the United States to impose targeted sanctions against more individuals from all parties to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, said to be 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,” partly the 10 June letter to the US secretary of state, John Kerry and national security advisor, Susan Rice.

The petitioners, in their letter, queried why only four commanders have been sanctioned ever 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.

But the South Sudanese embassy in Washington said calls for sanctions by these organisations only showed feelings of “frustration” and would, in no way, support government efforts to bring peace.

“The government strongly believes that ending the war and the humanitarian crisis should be the first priority and this can be achieved through supporting the IGAD-Plus initiative and encouraging parties to the conflict to return to the negotiating table,” the embassy said in a 16 June statement extended to Sudan Tribune.

“Threats of sanctions and arms embargo at this juncture will only serve as a disincentive for peace,” it added.

The South Sudanese government reiterated its commitment to work with international organisations in efforts to end the conflict and bring peace, insisting it had accommodated some of the demands given by the armed opposition groups.

Tens of thousands of people have killed and about two million displaced since violence broke out in South Sudan in 2013. At least 4.6 million people are reportedly at risk of starvation by end of year if fighting continue between South Sudan’s warring factions.

The Obama administration has, in the past, threatened sanctions on leaders in South Sudan, but activists want such threats implemented.

A coalition of human rights bodies urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to address serious, widespread and ongoing violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in South Sudan during its 29th session due in Geneva this week.

The coalition, in the their petition, called on members and observer states of the Council to push for accountability for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in the country, including by creating a Special Rapporteur on South Sudan with a mandate to monitor and publicly report on violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of international human rights law, and to make recommendations for achieving effective accountability for past and ongoing crimes.