JUBA – The European Union has this afternoon slapped sanctions against former opposition commander, General Moses Lokujo, who defected to the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces in September last year before launching attacks despite ceasefire.
According to a statement extended to Sudans Post this afternoon, the EU delegation in South Sudan said Lokujo who had attacked SPLA-IO forces station at a training center has been involved in grave human rights abuses.
“Gabriel Moses Lokujo has been responsible for grave human rights violations connected to his defection followed by attacks on civilians and on other military personnel,” the EU said in the statement extended to Sudans Post this afternoon.
“Through this sanction, the EU sends a clear signal to all the parties: military defections must not in any case be encouraged or accepted, as they violate the peace agreement and contribute to violence affecting civilians and to human rights abuses and violations,” it added.
General Lokujo defected from the SPLA-IO in September last year and later on issued ultimatum for SPLA-IO forces undergoing training as part of the peace process to vacate a cantonment area in Central Equatoria state.
Four days on, Lokujo attacked – reported with help from the SSPDF – the opposition forces and briefly dislodged them following days of fighting.
The Joint Defense Board (JDB), a peace body comprising opposition and government commanders later condemned his move, but no action has however been taken.
In the statement, the EU said it “remains committed to assist the South Sudanese people to fulfil their aspiration for peace and prosperity and to build a stable and democratic South Sudan.”
“The restrictive measure taken by the EU is meant to protect the interests of South Sudan and to defend the human rights of the South Sudanese people. This sanction is targeting an individual who has violated the rights of his/her fellow South Sudanese,” it added.
“Restrictive measures against individuals violating human rights have to be seen as a signal against impunity, also as a signal of the EU commitment to defend human rights, to stand with human rights defenders and to fight impunity.”
The EU High Representative Borrell stated on 4 March 2021 on behalf of the EU 27 Member States: “The EU reaffirms its readiness to deepen its partnership with South Sudan … [and] its support to the people of South Sudan. The EU will continue to strengthen resilience of local populations and provide life-saving humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable”
“If necessary, the EU will take restrictive measures against persons obstructing the political process in South Sudan, including by acts of violence or violations of ceasefire agreements, or against persons responsible for serious violations or abuses of human rights.” And also that “Measures must be taken to prevent and deter any further military defections from one armed side to the other, which are often accompanied by violence against civilians and violations of the ceasefire.” On 22 March 2021, the 27 Foreign EU Ministers have adopted restrictive measures against Gabriel Moses Lokujo precisely for those reasons.
The EU human rights global sanctions regime is an instrument for targeted restrictive measures to address serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide. Decisions on possible listings are based on solid, objective criteria, which will be applied across the world. Sanctions are a tool to promote a change of behavior and are meant to be reviewed regularly.
Decision-makers in South Sudan can and should do more to fulfil their promises of peace and development and to address the socioeconomic, political and environmental challenges of the country and its people.
Recent reports of UN bodies underline that there are still serious Human Rights violations and abuses in the country. We welcome declarations by South Sudan Government representatives committing to investigate these cases and stand ready to support efforts to curb impunity and respect and promote human rights.