South Sudan security forces break UN arms embargo – Report

A South Sudanese soldier stands near a machine gun mounted on a truck. Photo credit: Radio Tamazuj.

Amnesty International says South Sudan is importing and concealing military hardware despite the United Nations slapping an arms embargo on her.

The new report released Thursday calls on the UN Security Council to renew and enforce the embargo that expires on May 31, 2020.

The human rights group says several forces are concealing military weapons amid a volatile security situation in South Sudan.

In 2018, the UN Security Council banned South Sudan from acquiring more weapons. This was renewed in 2019 stopping the flow of weapons in the unstable country.

The organisation adds that earlier this year, its investigators went to 12 military training and cantonment sites across the country run by former opposition forces including SSPDF, SPLA-IO, SSOA and other organised forces.

The international group says it has evidence of newly imported small arms and ammunition, illicit concealment of weaponry and diversion of armoured vehicles for military use not approved under the arms transfer licences.

According to Radio Tamazuj, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mr Deprose Muchena, says the South Sudanese government and former opposition armed forces reporting on security arrangements deceived the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)–supported monitors.

‘The African Union has dubbed 2020 the year to ‘silence the guns’ on the continent, which, as they have stated, includes raking measures to prevent UN arms embargo violations. Renewing the embargo is a crucial part of this effort. Weapons have been used to commit horrific human rights violations and war crimes throughout the conflict.”

“The UN arms embargo hasn’t been a panacea, but the situation would almost certainly be worse without it in place. The ceasefire continues to be broken sporadically, the implementation of critical security, governance and accountability arrangements are persistently delayed, and South Sudan – awash with small arms – is also facing the public health crisis posed by Covid-19. Now is not the time to let even more weapons flow into this volatile mix.”

However, efforts to get a comment from the army spokesperson, Mr Lul Ruai Koang, about the new report were fruitless.

Despite a new unity government being established in South Sudan in February after talks between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader, Dr Riek Marchar who is the first vice president, a unified army is yet to be created though it was a key requirement of the September 2018 peace deal.

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