In morning hearing, expert describes “scorched earth campaigns,” “war economy”
July 10, 2015 (Washington DC) – Making a case for targeted sanctions enforcement, stolen asset recovery efforts, and accountability for economic crimes, the Enough Project’s Akshaya Kumar testified this morning at the U.S. House of Representatives Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s hearing on “The Current Human Rights Situation in South Sudan.”
The open hearing, at which Kumar joined former Ambassador to South Sudan Susan Page, representatives from Amnesty International and other experts, was called to examine the escalating violence and humanitarian crisis in the world’s newest nation. South Sudan, which had its fourth anniversary of independence yesterday, is caught in a civil war that has seen widespread human rights violations and atrocities, including rape, child soldiers, abductions, the targeting of civilians, and the burning of villages.
Excerpts from Lantos Commission testimony by Akshaya Kumar, Sudan and South Sudan Analyst at the Enough Project:
- “A generation is being lost once more. This is a great tragedy, but the greater tragedy is that all of this is happening in a climate of incredible impunity. With biting sanctions enforcement, asset recovery efforts and a push for a hybrid court, together, we can change that.”
- “The American people have long stood in solidarity with the people of South Sudan. For decades, that meant supporting their leaders in an international campaign to secure their freedom. Now, that dynamic must change.”
- “It’s hard to imagine that anyone could possibly benefit from tit-for-tat scorched earth campaigns that have driven over two million people from their homes and left one in ten South Sudanese households in Upper Nile facing catastrophic famine conditions. And it’s even harder to conceive how advantage could be gained from fighting that UNICEF confirms has often involved castrating young boys and raping young girls. But the cold hard truth is that there are people who profit from the war economy in South Sudan and the grand corruption that enables it.”
In her testimony, Kumar urged the US government to impose punishing consequences on those most responsible for obstructing the peace, grand corruption, and atrocity crimes, and proposed a three-pronged approach:
- measured escalation of existing individual targeted sanctions to ban the travel and freeze the assets of the country’s political elite and their enablers,
- legal action to confiscate ill-gotten gains and jumpstart efforts to recover and return the billions in stolen assets taken from South Sudan,
- a hybrid court with jurisdiction over atrocity crimes, including economic crimes like pillage and grand corruption.
Recent op-ed by George Clooney, John Prendergast, and Akshaya Kumar, “Sanctions Threats Are Not Enough in South Sudan”
ABOUT THE ENOUGH PROJECT
For media use, short version: “The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention research and policy group.”
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, Somalia, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research in conflict zones, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. For more information, visit www.EnoughProject.org