WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Treasury’s Department’s decision to sanction South Sudan’s first vice president, Taban Deng Gai, for his role in serious human rights abuses:
“The United States has a long history as a friend of South Sudan, and wants nothing more than the world’s youngest country to achieve lasting peace, democracy, and prosperity. The people of South Sudan have suffered for decades, and it is unacceptable for the country’s leaders to prolong and contribute to this suffering. It is imperative the U.S. take action to hold accountable those who commit serious human rights abuses and who risk impeding the country's revitalized peace process. Today’s Global Magnitsky designation of First Vice President Taban Deng Gai is the right decision.”
Just two years after South Sudan’s independence from Sudan, civil war broke out. The revitalized peace agreement, signed in 2018, has stalled. Last week, the 100 day extension brokered in November passed with little progress made on key benchmarks. Sudan’s leaders must be held accountable for failure to make positive steps toward lasting peace. Taban Deng Gai has served as South Sudan’s first vice president since 2016. In 2017, he played an influential role in the disappearance and deaths of human rights lawyer Samuel Dong Luak and SPLM-IO member Aggrey Idry. He has actively sought to prevent political dialogue and reconciliation and to extend the conflict in South Sudan.