July 2, 2021 (JUBA) – The U.S. has partly waved sanctions on South Sudan for the use of child soldiers to allow assistance to several bodies involved in the ongoing efforts to achieve peace and to implement the signed agreements.
In its 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report released on Thursday, the US State Department said that the South Sudanese government was one of 11 countries with a policy or pattern of recruitment of child soldiers.
The report said President Biden waived some penalties under the Child Soldiers Protection Act of 2008 for South Sudan.
The waiver aims to “allow for the provision of (Peacekeeping Operations) PKO assistance and has certified that the Government of South Sudan is taking effective and continuing steps to address the problem of child soldiers”.
PKO funds will be used to fund the ceasefire monitoring body (CTSAMVM), and peace implementation body (RJMEC). Further, it will be used to support UNICEF child soldier prevention efforts in South Sudan.
“They may also be used to support the Community of Sant’Egidio’s facilitation of South Sudan peace talks,” said the report.
PKO funds would serve to fund efforts to improve oversight of private security contractors at the UNMISS to ensure that the peacekeeping mission is able to fulfil its mandate of protection of civilians to help enable the peace process to succeed, added the State Department.
“Given the essential role that these monitoring mechanisms or efforts play as the parties to the R-ARCSS continue to work to implement the peace agreement and form a transitional government, waiving restrictions to PKO assistance is in the U.S. national interest”.
The report stressed that the assistance to support CTSAMVM and RJMEC will help maintain accountability regarding the Government of South Sudan’s unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers.
Human rights groups criticized the annual waiver to South Sudan saying it was harmful to the influence of the US administration to bring the government leadership to stop the requirement of child soldiers.