US sanctions South Sudan officials for conflict-related sexual violence

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Tuesday that it was sanctioning two South Sudanese officials involved in conflict-related sexual violence. The two officials, General James Nando and Governor Alfred Futuyo, were added to OFAC’s specially-designated nationals list for South Sudan, which blocks their access to any US assets and prevents US nationals from doing business with them.

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

The UN defined conflict-related sexual violence in a 2019 report as “rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilization, forced marriage, and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity perpetrated against women, men, girls or boys that is directly or indirectly linked to a conflict.” In its announcement, OFAC noted that Nando oversaw 64 cases of rape and sexual slavery, as well the abduction of at least 505 women and 63 girls. Futuyo commanded forces that abducted 887 civilians, 43 of whom were raped.

The sanctions against Nando and Futuyo are the first US sanctions with a “dedicated focus” on conflict-related sexual violence. President Joe Biden issued a memorandum in November 2022 that instructed US officials to place a greater focus on confronting conflict-related sexual violence by leveraging sanctions and working with international partners to bring more attention to sexual-violence issues. “The United States does not accept CRSV as an inevitable cost of armed conflict,” the memo said. “And is committed to supporting survivors through all available measures, including legal, policy, diplomatic, and financial tools—to deter future violence.”

The sanctions come as South Sudan is facing an escalating crisis of violence and human rights violations, driven by impunity. UN officials have expressed deep concerns, echoed by international organizations like Doctors Without Borders. One doctor, Beatriz Martinez De La Fuente, said last month that “the conflict is still ongoing and considering that this area is likely to get flooded during the rainy season, the situation could become even more difficult for people here.”