SPLA Chief of Staffs travels to China despite UN travel ban

South Sudan's Army Chief Gen. Michael Jok Riak (File photo)

South Sudan’s Army Chief Gen. Michael Jok Riak (File photo)

August 16th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan’s SPLA Chief of General Staffs Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak traveled to China last month in violation of the United Nations Security Council sanctions which banned him from travel, the Sentry has said in a new report.

South Sudan’s Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak, as well as six other South Sudanese army generals, was sanctioned by the UNSC in 2015 for perpetuating violence and breaching ceasefire agreements, sanctions that prohibit travel without a waiver issued by the UN. Despite being under UN sanctions, Gen. Jok Riak was promoted to the military’s top position in May.

The sanctions were also renewed in June this years.

“It’s now clear that Gabriel Jok Riak was able to travel to China last month likely in violation of his UN travel ban.  South Sudan’s new power-sharing deal will be destined for failure if it is implemented with the same neglect as sanctions enforcement. The short-sighted, status quo draft of the recent Khartoum Peace Agreement is incomplete and does not address the structural issues that led to the conflict in the first place,” Brian Adeba, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project.

Brian urged the international community to strongly enforce sanctions and intensify financial pressure on corrupt South Sudan government officials perpetuating the ongoing conflict in the country.

“The international community must strongly enforce sanctions and escalate financial pressures on South Sudan’s corrupt officials and their networks to support a sustainable peace,” Brian said said.

The Director of Policy and Analysis at The Sentry, Joshua White, said the travel by the SPLA’s top commander exposes a gap in the sanction enforcement and that beside going to China, Gen. Jok has homes in Kampala, Uganda saying the Ugandan authorities should be asked to seize them.

“The extensive diplomatic legwork needed to pass sanctions in the UN Security Council must be followed upwith strong enforcement. Gen. Jok Riak’s travel exposes a gap in sanctions enforcement. Not only was Jok Riak able to travel to China—which voted to sanction him in 2015—for a military conference but he still maintains a home in Kampala that Ugandan authorities should have long ago seized,” he said.

White added that sanctions must be more than symbolic rather than messages that does not affect the situation the UNSC aim to solve.

“Sanctions must be more than symbolic messages, and we call on the governments of these countries to respect their UN obligations with respect to South Sudan,” he said.