US sanctions South Sudanese officials over conflict-related rapes of hundreds of women and girls

FILE - The Department of the Treasury's seal outside the Treasury Department building in Washington on May 4, 2021. The U.S. on Thursday, June 15, 2023, imposed sanctions on a North Korean husband and wife living in Beijing accused of helping to procure equipment for ballistic missiles that ended up in the hands of North Korean and Iranian customers. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) (Patrick Semansky, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a South Sudanese military officer and governor accused in connection with the rapes of hundreds of women and girls. They are the first U.S. sanctions issued with a dedicated focus on conflict-related sexual violence, the Treasury Department said.

Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control designated James Nando, a major general in the South Sudanese army, who is accused of overseeing forces that raped hundreds of women and girls between 2018 and 2021.

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Treasury said Nando was aware of the abuses and did not prevent or punish fighters responsible for sexual violence when it happened under his watch.

Alfred Futuyo, governor of Western Equatoria, is also named in the sanctions documents. Affiliated with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army, an opposition group, Futuyo is accused of carrying out numerous attacks in his state that resulted in abductions and gang rapes of hundreds of civilians.

Among other things, the sanctions deny Nando and Futuyo access to any property or financial assets held in the U.S. and prevent U.S. companies and citizens from doing business with them.

The State Department on Tuesday also labeled two leaders of the Islamic State group, Arkan Ahmad ’Abbas al-Matuti and Nawaf Ahmad Alwan al-Rashidi, as specially designated global terrorists. They are accused of being responsible for the abduction and enslavement of Yezidi women and girls in Iraq and Syria.

“This scourge continues to be widespread throughout the world — from Ukraine, to Ethiopia, to Haiti, to Sudan, and beyond," said President Joe Biden in a statement. “Ending gender-based violence, wherever it occurs, and supporting survivors has been a high priority for me — as a Senator, Vice President, and since day one of my Administration.”

“The United States is committed to doing all we can to end this blatant abuse of human rights,” Biden said.

In November, Biden signed a presidential memorandum to give additional support to the U.N. special representative to the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict and to survivors of sexual violence in conflict settings.

“The United States rejects all forms of sexual violence — which women and children bear the brunt of — in armed conflict,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo in a written statement. “We remain committed to holding perpetrators and enablers of conflict-related sexual violence accountable so long as this scourge exists.”

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