Following a two-year investigation into the assets and wealth of top officials in South Sudan’s government and opposition, The Sentry, co-founded by board members George Clooney and John Prendergast, has released its first findings in a new report, "War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay: Stopping the Looting and Destruction of South Sudan".
Watch a livestream of the release of the reoprt at a press conference in Washington, DC @ 10am EST: www.thesentry.org/live
Since the beginning of the conflict in South Sudan in 2013, tens of thousands of people have lost their lives, 2.3 million people have been displaced, and 5.1 million people—almost half the country’s population—require food assistance. Mass rape has been used as a weapon of war and children are routinely recruited as soldiers and sent as cannon fodder into combat. Throughout all of this horror and destruction, rival kleptocratic networks led by President Kiir and Vice President Machar have been manipulating and exploiting ethnic divisions, and competing not for the best interests of their country, but rather for the grand prize – control over state assets and the country’s abundant natural resources.
This report provides evidence that highlights the link between this systemic corruption and violent conflict, including the mass atrocities committed during the civil war. The Sentry’s investigation focused on top officials identified by the United Nations and African Union as having command authority over military operations that resulted in widespread human rights crimes since December 2013, including:
The Sentry found evidence, which the report details, that top officials and their families have enjoyed luxurious homes outside South Sudan and have been involved in commercial ventures throughout the country’s most lucrative business sectors. Some have even received payments into their personal bank accounts from foreign corporations. War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay also describes the international network of collaborators that allows South Sudan’s violent kleptocrats to move money with ease and enjoy the spoils of war, from banks to lawyers to international war profiteers.
Critically, the report proposes a new strategy to use this information in a way that could effectively counter atrocities, by using the tools of financial pressure normally reserved for countering terrorism, organized crime, and nuclear proliferation for two purposes: first, to bring to account those responsible for these abuses, individuals who until now have been able to operate with near impunity because the world imposes no consequences for their behavior; and second, to create significant and heretofore missing international leverage by impacting the cost-benefit analysis of those leaders away from violence, atrocities and corruption and toward peace, human rights, and transparency.
To do so, War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay elaborates on the following areas in which the international community must work to create accountability and leverage:
1. Targeted Sanctions
2. Anti-Money Laundering Measures
3. Mitigating collateral damage and unintended consequences.
4. Put Corruption “Front and Center” in South Sudan