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South Sudanese political elites illegally embezzle millions of US dollars, undermining basic human rights and stability – note UN experts

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South Sudanese political elites illegally embezzle millions of US dollars, undermining basic human rights and stability – note UN experts

Commission documentation on corruption, embezzlement, bribes and embezzlement of public funds by political elites is just the tip of the iceberg

JUBA, South Sudan, September 23, 2021 / APO Group / –

By diverting huge sums of money and other wealth from South Sudan’s public coffers and resources, South Sudan’s leaders are violating human rights and endangering security, the Commission on Human Rights has found. rights in South Sudan in its latest conference room paper presented to the Human Rights Council. in Geneva today.

According to investigations carried out by the Commission over the past two years, more than US $ 73 million has been embezzled since 2018, including transactions worth almost US $ 39 million over a period of less than two month. The Commission noted that this figure is only a fraction of the overall amount looted; as President Salva Kiir himself admitted as early as 2012, South Sudan’s ruling elites had embezzled more than US $ 4 billion.

The mandate of the Commission is to monitor and report on the human rights situation in South Sudan, and to clarify accountability for alleged violations and related crimes, as well as to make recommendations to improve the situation. In its conference room paper, the Commission highlighted how the systematic and illicit diversion of state resources has seriously undermined the economic, social and cultural rights of citizens. This plunder also continues to fuel political competition between elites and is a key factor in the ongoing conflict, violations and serious crimes, jeopardizing the prospects for lasting peace.

The Commission’s recommendations to the government of South Sudan aim to ensure that the state is able to protect and respect the rights of its citizens.

The Commission’s room document also points out that South Sudan’s elites have deliberately adopted a very informal system of oil revenue collection, in which the lack of independent oversight and transparency facilitates and allows the embezzlement of public funds. Likewise, imperfect and non-transparent processes for contract payments, purchases and revenues are being illegally exploited to divert non-oil revenues. In only one emblematic case, the Commission has revealed that a single payment made illegally in May 2018 by the Ministry of Finance to Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal, also known as “Al Cardinal ”, Accounted for 21.6% of South Sudan’s income. total budget “Use of goods and services” and “Capital expenditure” for the entire financial year 2018/2019.

“The Commission’s documentation on corruption, embezzlement, bribes and embezzlement of public funds by political elites is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Commission President Yasmin Sooka. “Our investigations have traced exactly how this money is being misappropriated, and our findings revealing patterns and trends in misappropriation of funds include the involvement of politicians, government officials, international corporations, military personnel and multinational banks in these cases. crimes. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the National Revenue Authority and a number of foreign companies have all been complicit in this, ”she added.

The Commission’s room document also underlines and establishes a link between the illicit embezzlement of funds and the insufficient resources available to public authorities to fulfill their legal obligations to guarantee the enjoyment of the economic, social and cultural rights of citizens.

“The human rights violations and related crimes that we have investigated refer to a broad category of activities involving money, finance or property, the purpose of which is to illegally obtain profit or a benefit for authors, ”said Commissioner Andrew Clapham. “These activities are prohibited by both national and international law, including the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, the Anti-Corruption Commission Act and the Investigative Committees Act. As a State Party, South Sudan is further bound by the United Nations Convention against Corruption. As a result, other states parties to this convention may be forced to repatriate funds originating in South Sudan and used illegally to purchase real estate abroad, as we have documented in great detail ”, a- he added.

The Commission report also highlights that South Sudan’s oil industry is dominated by irresponsible oil consortia, whose actions have caused considerable havoc, including environmental degradation and damage to the health of citizens. Oil spills in Pariang and Rubkona counties in Unity State, for example, have resulted in premature births, stillbirths, birth defects or newborn deaths, blindness, male sexual dysfunctions and low fertility.

“We analyzed a series of preventable health incidents induced by devastating diseases and birth defects, many of which can be directly attributed to the presence of crude oil contamination in the water, contributing to environmental degradation. ”Said Commission President Yasmin Sooka. “The damage caused by these large oil consortia to local communities, and in particular the impact on infants who continue to suffer from severe birth defects, is quite glaring and devastating for families,” she added.

The Commission also underlined that the illicit gains from economic crimes are also a major driver of the armed conflict in South Sudan.

“The damaging conflicts in South Sudan have been dramatically activated and even motivated by the opportunities to control and divert natural resources as well as oil and non-oil revenues,” said Commissioner Barney Afako. “In addition, national authorities and elites have prioritized funding for military and security apparatus over investments in public services, infrastructure and livelihoods. We strongly urge the government to act swiftly and decisively to fully implement Chapter IV of the revitalized Peace Agreement, which provides the appropriate basis for ensuring effective resource, economic and financial management in South Sudan ”, he added.

The Commission has identified several persons allegedly linked to human rights violations and related economic crimes, and included them in its confidential list which will be handed over to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in order to facilitate transitional justice responses, including investigations and prosecutions.

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