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U.S. imposes sanctions on South Sudan officials over rape of hundreds of women



The United States Treasury has imposed stiff sanctions on two senior South Sudanese government and army officials following accusations of “conflict-related” sexual violence against hundreds of women and girls.

While announcing the sanctions in a statement, Deputy Secretary of Treasury, Wally Adeyemo said the officials were accused of perpetuating sexual-related violence in the country’s Western Equatoria State where fighting between militant groups have continued to rage despite a series of peace agreements put in place since 2018.

In the statement which was released on Wednesday to mark the “International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict”, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said the state’s Governor, Alfred Futuyo and South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) commander, James Nando serially “abused their positions of political and military authority to carry out acts of sexual violence against citizens of South Sudan.”

The statement also indicted opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA-IO) forces led by Futuyo over the alleged kidnapping of around 887 civilians and gang-raping of 43 women and girls between April and August 2018.

The statement added that Futuyo is sanctioned for “targeting of women, children, or any civilians through the commission of acts of violence including killing, maiming, torture, or rape or other sexual violence, abduction, forced displacement, or attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites, or locations where civilians are seeking refuge.”

The statement added that the SSPDF forces commanded by Nando, a former SPLA-IO commander, were responsible for attacks against civilians in Western Equatoria State in 2021 and also “responsible for at least 64 instances of rape and sexual slavery against civilians.”

“Between April and August 2018, Nando directly or through his commanders, officers, and fighters subordinate to him, oversaw the abduction of at least 505 women and 63 girls,” the statement said.

“The United Nations Mission in South Sudan documented 43 cases of rape and gang-rape that occurred during these attacks.

“Nando was aware of these abuses and did not prevent, discourage, or punish fighters responsible for sexual violence when it happened under his watch, thereby encouraging fighters to continue these abuses.

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


DR Congo: President Tshisekedi says Rwanda’s Kagame acting like Adolf Hitler



Democratic Republic of Congo President, Félix Tshisekedi, has taken a dig at President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, comparing him to German dictator, Adolf Hitler, while on the campaign trail in the troubled east of the country.

While addressing his supporters on Friday at a rally in Bukavu, capital of South Kivu, Tshisekedi, who is seeking a second term in office in the general elections scheduled for December 20 after first coming to power in January 2019, said Kagame behaved like Hitler while pursuing his “expansionist aims”.

“I’m going to address Rwandan President Paul Kagame and tell him this: since he wanted to behave like Adolf Hitler by having expansionist aims (in the DRC), I promise to end up like Adolf Hitler,” declared Tshisekedi.

“When I took power as president of this country, I proposed a plan to live in peace with our neighbors, but the problem is that our neighbors have eyes bigger than their stomachs, and that’s the case with my colleague Paul Kagame.

“But this time, Paul Kagame has met a son of the country determined to protect his country against all kinds of foreign aggression,” he stated.

Tshisekedi’s speech was not unconnected with the activities of the M23 (March 23 Movement) rebels who are mainly Tutsis believed to have the backing of the Rwandan government and have been wreaking havoc in North Kivu and Ituri in South Kivu and other eastern provinces of the DRC in the past 30 years.

Relations between the DRC and neighboring Rwanda have also witnessed tense turmoil which reached a climax in 2021 with the resurgence in North Kivu of the rebellion, allegedly supported by Kigali, seizing large swathes of the province.

On numerous occasions, Tshisekedi has denounced what he often describes as Rwandan aggression under the guise of the M23.

Tshisekedi has also accused Rwanda of sponsoring the rebels, an accusation Kigali has vehemently denied.

He has also described Rwanda as a “horrible neighbor” which wants to monopolize the mining wealth of DRC which is largely located in the eastern Congo.

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Nigerian lady detained for condemning religious killing regains freedom after 18 months



A Nigerian lady, Rhoda Jatau, who had been held in prison in Bauchi State in North-East Nigeria for allegedly condemning the killing of a student, Deborah Samuel, by Muslim religious fanatics in Sokoto State has regained freedom after 18 months.

Deborah, a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was brutally murdered by her fellow students on May 12, 2022, after she advised against sending religious materials on a WhatsApp page created for her department.

The murder of Deborah cause a lot of consternation and outcry in the country with many Nigerians calling for justice for the victim.

Jatau, a mother of five and a Christian, also joined in the cry for justice for the murdered student, and also shared a video of the lynching of the girl which was allegedly made by her killers.

After sharing the video on social media, Jatau was arrested on May 20, 2022, and accused of inciting public disturbance, exciting contempt of religious creed, and cyberstalking.

She was subsequently charged under Sections 114 and 210 of the Penal Code Law, as well as Section 24 Subsection 1b(i) of the Cyber Crimes Act, and had been kept in detention since then.

But reprieve came her way on Friday when she was released from prison following interventions by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), and the Christian Solidarity Worldwide Nigeria.

NIREC, in a press statement confirming the release of Jatau, said:

“Following the outcry from the Christian community in Nigeria over the continued detention of Rhoda Jatau in Bauchi Prison, the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide Nigeria intervened in the matter.

“We are pleased to report that Ms. Rhoda Jatau has been granted bail and subsequently released from detention.

“We have high hopes that the case will end in praise. Let’s continue to keep her in our prayers. The leadership of NIREC played a key role. Praise be to our God.”

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